Quantum effects that arise from confinement of electronic states have been extensively studied for the surface states of noble metals. Utilizing small artificial structures for confinement allows tailoring of the surface properties and offers unique opportunities for applications. So far, examples of surface state confinement include thin films, artificial nanoscale structures, vacancy and adatom islands, self-assembled 1D chains, vicinal surfaces, quantum dots and quantum corrals. In this review we summarize recent achievements in changing the electronic structure of surfaces by adsorption of nanoporous networks whose design principles are based on the concepts of supramolecular chemistry. Already in 1993, it was shown that quantum corrals made from Fe atoms on a Cu(1 1 1) surface using single atom manipulation with a scanning tunnelling microscope confine the Shockley surface state. However, since the atom manipulation technique for the construction of corral structures is a relatively time consuming process, the fabrication of periodic two-dimensional (2D) corral structures is practically impossible. On the other side, by using molecular self-assembly extended 2D porous structures can be achieved in a parallel process, i.e. all pores are formed at the same time. The molecular building blocks are usually held together by non-covalent interactions like hydrogen bonding, metal coordination or dipolar coupling. Due to the reversibility of the bond formation defect-free and long-range ordered networks can be achieved. However, recently also examples of porous networks formed by covalent coupling on the surface have been reported. By the choice of the molecular building blocks, the dimensions of the network (pore size and pore to pore distance) can be controlled. In this way, the confinement properties of the individual pores can be tuned. In addition, the effect of the confined state on the hosting properties of the pores will be discussed in this review article.