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2011 Centro Habana Planning Charrette

Report of the Fifth Havana Urban Design Charrette

Conducted 20th to 26th March 2011

Thirty professionals, artists, and students, from I•N•T•B•A•U (International Network for Traditional Building and Urbanism) participated in the fifth annual Havana Urban Design Charrette to imagine a future for the district of Centro Habana.

This charrette, and the four conducted previously, are done in support of the concepts and principles proposed in “A Master Plan for 21st Century Havana.”

Four teams, composed of roughly equal numbers of international participants and their Cuban hosts, studied the district from the scale of the city to that of the block.

Centro Habana

John Pilling photo

Their recommendations:

Urban Scale

1. Enrich the District’s Connections to the Larger City
2. Strengthen Its Identity Within the City
3. Use Transportation Diversity to Reinforce Its Connection / Identity
4. Maintain High Density
5. Create a 21st Century (sustainable) Infrastructure As Part of Each Set of Improvements
6. Make it Easier to Cross the Malecón

District Scale

1. Tranvia (Light Rail): Three Corridors
- Malecón / San Lázaro
- Zanja
- Belascoain
2. Green Space Network Throughout
3. Detain and Use Storm Water Locally (Building or Block)
4. University as Knowledge-Based Foreign Investment Magnet
5. Hospital Continues as Health Care Provider / Health Services Magnet for Foreign Investment
6. Enhance Identify of Fragua Martiana
7. Transit Hub at Hospital / Maceo / Torreon Area
8. First Phase Malecón Highway / Future Heavy Rail Tunnel From La Punta to Maceo Monument

Neighborhood Scale

1. Maintain Unique Identity of Each Barrio (Cayo Hueso, San Lázaro, Colón)
2. Provide Full Amenities & Services in a Convenient Location for each barrio.
- Primary School (12 Classrooms)
- Recreation (stickball, football practice, half-court basketball)
- Neighborhood Meeting Rooms
- Cultural Resources

Block Scale

1. Maintain Character but Improve Physical Standards
2. Make Two Kinds of Lot Allocations: International Investor and Family Housing

“The 2011 International Charrette’s subject, Centro Habana, expands on the work from 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, which examined Havana Harbor, the Harbor’s surrounding communities, and Habana del Este.

International architects and planners joined Cuban experts and members of local communities for a one-week charrette from the 21st to the 26th March 2011 to develop proposals for the regeneration and development of the portion of Centro Havana nearest the Malecón waterfront.

The Objectives of the 2011 charrette were:

  • Elaborate ideas for the development of the waterfront sectors of the district of Centro Habana.
  • Promote an integrated vision between the natural condition and the built environment.
  • Promote and highlight the importance of the Malecón for the new image of Havana and for social and cultural integration.
  • Evaluate the benefits of the transformation of the district of Centro Habana for the future of Havana in economical and urban terms.
  • Suggest means to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants of the district of Centro Habana, preserving its Mediterranean image and getting advantage of its privilege site.
  • Propose the increase of urban open space, housing and commerce in the area and its impact at city level.
  • Propose means to turn the current dilapidated image of the district of Centro Habana into a contemporary and joyful one.
  • Develop idea to reshape the urban landscape of an area currently dilapidated and lacking character by increasing the green areas.
  • Seek the means to reinforce the cultural identity of the district of Centro Habana within the city of Havana.”

More Information

2010 aka Fourth Havana Urban Design Charrette conducted March 22 - 27, 2010 with download of final report by John H. Pilling.

2012 aka Sixth Urban Design Charrette from 19-25 February 2012. We will post the final report soon after it is published.

Highlights of the program

  • Stay at Hotel Condes de Villanueva. Welcome by Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler and Prof. Julio César Pérez
  • Tour of Centro Habana (charrette site)
  • Introductory lectures by both Cuban experts and foreign participants.
  • Public presentation and discussion of first proposals
  • Public presentation of final proposals for Centro Habana

2013 Study Tour to Cuba - Spring 2013 - 23 - 30 March 2013


The one week tour 23 - 30 March 2013 will include an introduction to the history of Urbanism and Architecture of Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad, all of them listed as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. It will involve insights into the regeneration of Old Havana, and a tour by bus to two smaller historic towns, Trinidad and Cienfuegos.

Expert guide will be Prof. Julio Cesar Perez, who has been a speaker at countless international conferences. A Loeb Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Design 2001-2002 and Adjunct Professor at the School of Architecture in Havana he has lectured widely in the US and Europe about Cuban architecture. He is also the author of the major book INSIDE CUBA published by Taschen in 2006.

Who it is for: Anyone with an interest in Cuban history, culture and architecture. Our previous participants have had a wide range of different backgrounds, with the common nominator that they have been culturally interested people. 

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