Cuba Compilation

A wide selection of books have been published about the architecture in Cuba in the recent decade. The interest in and the publication of books on Cuba is likely only to increase. Most of them have and probably will continue to focus on the earlier periods of Cuban architecture but a few have addressed the remarkable modern hertiage found in Cuba. Below are a few recommendations.

History

Havana: Two Faces of the Antillean Metropolis Joseph L. Scarpaci, Roberto Segre and Mario Coyula

(Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2002)

 

This paperback edition with a foreword by Andres Duany is a history of the development of the island of Cuba and the city of Havana. Written by three individuals with very different life experiences, Scarpaci was born in Pittsburgh, Segre in Milan and Coyula in Havana, they all were living in Havana when the book was written. In its combination of nationalities and experiences the book contents reflects the experience of the island: its different faces.

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Modern Architecture

La Habana: Arquitectura del siglo XX Eduardo Luis Rodriguez (Barcelona, Spain: Art Blume, 1998)  

The architecture of Havana in the 20th Century includes many of the same building typologies and styles found in the US ranging from Beaux Arts classicism to Art Deco. This Spanish language book with a foreword by Andres Duany illustrates these developments. The section on modern architecture includes a chapter on the art schools in Havana showing the condition of these remarkable buildings at the end of the 20th Century when they were largely abandoned, overgrown and in disrepair.

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The Havana Guide: Modern Architecture 1925-1965

Eduardo Luis Rodriguez:
(New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2000)

This guidebook is essential for anyone studying the modern architecture of Havana. While covering the period 1925 to 1965 and presumably includes Art Deco, most of the buildings date from the decades immediately before and after the war. The two postwar decades are particularly fertile and productive in the design of modern architecture in both the private and public sector. Its cut-off date coincides with the rise of the Russian influence on the economy of the island and its building and construction.

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Revolution of Forms: Cuba’s Forgotten Art Schools

John A. Loomis:
(New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011)

One of the most famous building complexes in Cuba today is the National Art Schools. Started in 1961 on the site of the former country club, a remarkable set of buildings were created by three architects: Ricardo Porro (Dance and Plastic Arts), Roberto Gottardi (Dramatic Arts) and Vittorio Garatti (Music and Ballet). The project was never fully completed and stopped in 1965 and by the end of the 20th Century was largely abandoned and overgrown. At the end of the 90s Loomis with this book brought broad attention to this complex of interconnected organic style structures built with domes and shells reminiscent of Rafael Guastevino’s work in the early part of the 20th Century in Spain and the US.

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Other books

A great many books about the culture and architecture of Cuba and Havana have been published in the last decade. Only two have been listed here. Many others are undoubtedly forthcoming.

Havana Revisited: An Architectural Heritage

Cathryn Griffith
(New York, NY: W. W. Norton, 2010)

Divided in chapters that address particular geographic areas or interests in Havana, these are discussed by juxtaposing contemporary photographs with early 20th Century photographs. This book seeks to show the architectural evolution of the most important city in Spanish colonial America. While changes have taken place over time, at the same time, the historic postcards show how much, remarkably, remains intact today.

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Havana Deco

Alejandro G. Alonso, Pedro Contreras and Martino Fagiuoli
(New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2007)

As the title suggests the book shows the richness of the architecture and design in Havana in the two decades before World War II. Architecture, interiors and furnishings and visual arts are included. The buildings and interiors range from public buildings, commercial buildings, cinemas, clubs, hotels to restaurants and private residences both larger multistory apartment buildings as well as individual houses in town and in the suburbs.

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