Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Havana Architecture Reflects Her People

While I am certainly not a student of architecture, I do believe the buildings of a city will often reflect its people. Cuba is no different.

While there are snippets of classical German baroque, Art Deco and what I can only describe as Russian gulag, by far the most prevalent is Cuban and Spanish Colonial. What I found most interesting was how tourism is having a positive influence in restoring Havana to its former structural glory.

For about five kilometres along the seawall is a stretch of one time glorious homes for the well heeled, hotels for the high rollers, and generally buildings that one would expect alongside an ocean front. A declining economy, due in large part to the collapse of  the former Soviet Union, this prime piece of real estate fell into a terrible state of disrepair. It does seem interesting that many families still live in these structures; one can only question how safe they are.

Meanwhile, near the east end of the seawall and in the vicinity of the opulent Hotel Nacional de Cuba, the resurrection is already in various stages of completion and provides a glimpse of what awaits the facade along Avenue Carlos Cespedes and the remainder of the seawall district.


These Cuban colonial buildings are being painted in warm pastels and accented with bright bold primary colours. Primary colour schemes abound and compliment not only the building facade but reflect the people: warm and inviting.

One can only wonder, however, if the old city that lies in the shadows of the tourist destinations can survive long enough to receive their face lift. The socialist hopes so, the romantic probably hopes not.