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Santander Waterfront, Santander, Cantabria

Holistic masterplan for a 60ha area of Santander's coast line

The Santander Waterfront, running along 60 hectares of land and 5 km of seafront, has become the main actor of urban life and the image of the Cantabrian region.

The coordination of this public-private initiative has made the bay an international benchmark within the European Atlantic Arc. This unique model, SmartBay, meets the needs of different users and combines the port activities with the leisure aspects of the Santander bay.

Total Design

In addition to the development of the masterplan, Arup's work has included the feasibility study for the new passenger terminal (ferries and cruise ships), technical advisor to the Task Force (Port Authority and Municipality of Santander) during the Development Agreement as well as the establishment of the consortium negotiations.

Arup´s masterplan also included various strategies for sustainability – SPeAR®, SuPort, energy, mobility, retrofitting, regeneration and bioclimatic design.

Later on, with the occasion of the celebration of the ISAF Sailing World Championship in the city in 2014, the Elite Sailing Training Centre (CEAR) by architects Alejandro Zaera-Polo & Maider Llaguno was built at the waterfront. In addition, since 2017, the Botin Center, a cultural space and first work of Renzo Piano in Spain, is also part of this port front.

Project Summary


190,000m2 new open spaces

600M €investment

12yearscompletion time

SmartBay model

Through this project, Santander aims to position itself as an international benchmark in five vectors of innovation and knowledge:

Sustainability: creating a low-impact district that will feature the latest technology in mobility, waste management, telecommunications, power generation, energy management, and water cycle; giving the Project the potential to become an international benchmark in sustainable and integrated urban rehabilitation.

Sports: Santander is an international leader in sailing training and boat racing, and hosted the World Sailing Championship 2014.

Culture: The new territory, a XXI century avant-garde cultural reference, positions the Bay as the cultural capital of the Bay of Biscay, offering a constant supply of cultural facilities, and the enhancement and preservation of heritage. Arup is also working on the Botín Art and Culture Centre (Banco de Santander), which is located in this area.

Innovation: Creating a new economic focus, as a model for regenerating disused productive spaces, while competing in the XXI century marketplace of innovation and technology.

SmartPort: Combining strategies for the remodelling of port facilities based on the sustainability and profitability principles that will make energy efficiency possible.

The design of a new mixed use terminal, cruise ships and ferries, with the capacity to hold up to 4 vessels, will allow the port to compete in the global market of passengers and RoRo.

Recognized prestige

Santander Waterfront was selected at the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2016 along with the transformation of cities like Hamburg, Oslo and Dublin. The project has been highlighted as a model of integration that provides an area of maritime activity compatible with spaces at the service of citizens.

In 2018, the project received the “Ciudad y Territorio Albert Serratosa” award for the quality of the design, since having developed on a very fragile edge of the town, allows a clear urban integration with the rest of the city.