Toward a New Cuban Architecture: The Emergence of Independent Architectural Studios in Havana (2011-2020)

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Abstract

Based on an in-depth analysis of interviews carried out in 2019 and 2020, this article considers the emergence of private studios of architecture in Havana within the last decade. I open the article by briefly exploring the contentious relationship that has traditionally existed between architects and the state since the advent of the Revolution. This fraught engagement functions as the historic backdrop for the configuration of a new Cuban architecture. Next, the analysis frames the recent rise of entrepreneurial architecture in the context of the re-appearance – for the first time in decades – of a key figure for architectural practice: the private client. I then survey six Havana-based offices – H[r]g Arquitectura, Apropia Estudio, Nivel 4 Estudio, Pino Estudio, Órbita XX and Infraestudio –, by charting the diverse architectural sensibilities that they make manifest. I argue that these studios’ activity reveals a broad aesthetic and conceptual pluralism. I close the article by outlining some of the shared strategies that these entrepreneurial architects have mobilized to forge new creative spaces beyond state stagnation, which include a tactics of visibility and collectivism. Ultimately, the present article seeks to begin documenting and drawing attention to the value of recent histories of market-driven architecture on the island, in the current context of Cuba’s insertion into systems of global capital.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCuban studies
Volume52
Pages (from-to)212-239
Number of pages28
ISSN0361-4441
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 6160 Other humanities
  • Latin American Studies
  • Cuba
  • Architecture

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