Ten years in the making, the feature-length documentary Unfinished Spaces focuses on the innovative, organic architecture of Cuba’s Escuelas Nacionales de Arte (now known as the Instituto Superior de Arte, or ISA). Initiated by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in the early 1960s, the project fell out of favor a few years later and the buildings have remained unfinished. Cuban Art News spoke with the film’s producer-directors Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray, as they were wrapping up work on the film and preparing for the world premiere in Los Angeles.
On March 20-26, thirty urbanists, architects, artists, and students came together for the fifth annual Havana Urban Design Charrette. Sponsored by the Cuban and Norwegian chapters of the Council of European Urbanism (CEU) and the International Network for Traditional Building and Urbanism (INTBAU), the 2011 Charrette drew equal numbers of Cuban and international participants. Drawing on their expertise in designing, planning, and restoring the urban realm, they came together to envision the future of the Centro Habana district.
The architect and urban planner wraps up his two-part Cuban Art News interview with a discussion of architecture in Cuba, the problems caused by “architecture of the author”—known in the U.S. as “starchitecture”—and what Americans think of Cuba’s architectural heritage.
In Part 1 of this two-part interview, Pérez discusses the highlights of his current exhibition, the details of his ten-point approach to planning for Havana’s growth and development, and why all architects need to start out by designing houses.
Designed by architects Ricardo Galbis and Vicente Llanera, the Hotel Internacional in Varadero first opened its doors in 1950. Nearby, another landmark of modern Cuban architecture, the Cabañas del Sol hotel, was designed by Moenck and Quintana Company. The recent announcement, via email, of the forthcoming demolition of both buildings by the Ministry of Tourism has caused a virtual uprising among intellectuals across the island.