Protected: Architecture and Revolution in Cuba, 1959-1969
Tuesday September 14, 2004 – Saturday December 11, 2004
Curated by Eduardo Luis Rodríguez
Over the course of the past 40 years Cuba’s distinct political, ideological and cultural climate has produced a narrative of the built environment unique within the history of modern architecture. Following the overthrow of Batista’s regime in January of 1959, the new Cuban government, led by Fidel Castro, immediately launched an ambitious national building program fueled by a sense of political optimism and the promise of social reform. Architecture and Revolution focuses on a selection of buildings produced in the first decade of the Revolution. This exhibit marks the first presentation of this material outside of Cuba.
The new building campaign was part of a national effort to reapportion wealth across a traditionally stratified society. Focusing on the construction of social housing, educational facilities and public works, new federal agencies were created to translate the Revolutionary mission into the built environment. This task fell to a younger generation of architects, since many of the more established architects had gone into exile following the Revolution. This new generation of architects – including figures such as Ricardo Porro, Mario Girona, Walter Betancourt, Hugo D’Acosta and Mercedes Álvarez – experimented with forms and materials to extend the tradition of modernism beyond the pre-Revolutionary domain of private development and the single-family house. Innovative architectural and urban projects sprang up across the country: La Coppelia/The National Ice Cream Parlor (Girona, 1966); Módulo Experimental de Vivienda de Asbesto-Cemento/Experimental Asbestos Housing Module (D’Acosta and Álvarez, 1965-68); Conjunto de Viviendas Circulares/Circular Houses Complex (de la Cova, 1963); and perhaps the most widely recognized work of this period, Las Escuelas Nacionales de Arte/The National Art Schools (Garatti, Gottardi and Porro, 1961-65), among many others.
Curated by Havana-based architect and historian Eduardo Luis Rodríguez, Architecture and Revolution introduces a body of work virtually unknown outside of Cuba. The exhibition features 172 archival images documenting close to fifty architectural projects built by the Cuban government between 1959 and 1969. The projects have been grouped into typologies such as Education, Housing, and Public Health, among others. The categories reflect specific social initiativesadopted by the Cuban government immediately following the Revolution.
Eduardo Luis Rodríguez was born in Havana in 1959. He is a practicing architect, critic and historian who has published widely in architecture journals. He is also the author of The Havana Guide: Modern Architecture 1925-1965; La Habana Colonial: Guía de Arquitectura; and La Habana: Arquitectura del siglo XX. He is a founding member of the Cuban Section of Documentation and Conservation of the Modern Movement (DOCOMOMO), for whom he is directing the forthcoming register of modern works with heritage value. He has been the editor-in-chief of the journal Arquitectura Cuba since 1996.
Architecture and Revolution has been made possible by generous contri-butions from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Graham Foundation for the Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
Centro de Investigaciones y Experimentación de la Construcción (CIEC)
Center of Research and Experimentation of Construction