Track 3: Conservation of modern and post-modern heritage
The National Schools of Art of Havana was one of the first major cultural projects to take place in Cuba following the country’s 1959 revolution. Cuban architect Ricardo Porro, along with Italian architects Vittorio Garatti and Roberto Gottardi, created an organic modernist architecture that would embody the new government’s social aspiration: the integration of art, architecture, and landscape in a spirit of equality and intercultural exchange.
The schools represent a renowned example of modern Latin American architecture. Located in a tropical landscape of 37,000 m2, they were established to teach 5 disciplines (Plastic Arts, Theatre, Modern Dance, Ballet and Music), while at the same time representing the cultural fervour of the Cuban Revolution. After the Missile Crisis, the construction of the Art Schools was interrupted and only 2 of the 5 buildings were finally completed. Despite these difficulties, the Art Schools were partly inaugurated in 1965 and since then they have received more than a thousand students each year, hosting classes also into the unfinished building.
The uniqueness of its architectural forms derived from practical needs. The architects had construct with local material as terracotta tiles and bricks due to of US embargo, their usage designed new shapes as organic path and vault made with the techniques of Catalan vault, perfectly speaking with the surrounded tropical landscape.
The architectures designed by Vittorio Garatti, especially represent the synthesis of these principles.
The School of Music was meant to generate a curved path that follows the contour of the near river and the terrain contours as a sinuous brick serpentine; the school of Ballet, within the river bend beneath the sea level, consisted of a cluster of brick glass domes interconnected by covered curvy paths
“The formal result was not a stylistic choice but the result of a method of analysis of the context” cit. Arch. Garatti
The schools were meant to be use in all their dimension to encourage the artistic creation, such as students dancing on the roofs or musicians performing facing the flow of the pacific river.
Since the 1990s, international interest in these facilities has been growing: the schools were registered in the Watch List of the World Monuments Fund and in the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
Assorestauro, with Fondazione Politecnico di Milano, won in 2018 the international grant “Keeping it Modern” of Getty Foundation with the conservation plan of the abandoned School of Ballet.
The project includes the collection and evaluation of historical documentation, technical studies on materials, tests of technical solutions on a small pilot worksite followed by training session for local students and professionals, and the development of a conservation management plan for the School designed by Vittorio Garatti