Florida International University- School of Architecture
Professor: Jaime Canaves
In collaboration with: Bermello, Ajamil and Partners
Prize: The Masters Award for design excellence
The post-war boom, as well as the modernization of transportation and communications, has led to rapid growth of the tourist sector, particularly in countries in the process of development. Because of the general tourism boom, not to mention the critical situation spawned by the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe, Cuba began in the 1990’s to adopt tourism as one of the basic pillars in the redefinition of its economic strategy. The Cuban tourist sector now faces the challenge of increasing its competitive capacity and subjective factors have to be worked out through a coherent strategy that adequately uses the human capital in Cuba as its principal economic resource. As the world takes in the news that Fidel Castro has died, as of November 25, 2016, many people are asking what will happen next in one of the last remaining Communist countries. The course objective is to embrace the new architectural possibilities that relate to tourism, culture, maritime and quality of life in Havana, Cuba.
I approached the design with the idea of creating a ‘celebration’ along the Port of Havana, or a ‘new Port Gem’. My design, the Havana Grand Mercado, is a public building that combines market, entertainment and housing. The design was inspired programmatically by MVRDV’s Markthall in Rotterdam, and was inspired contextually by Ruddy Ricciotti’s MuCem in Marseille.
The skin design is inspired by both the countless detailed tiles and the intricate wrought iron work found in Havana Vieja. The building strives to take on an architectural interpretation of Pablo Neruda’s poem, Love Sonnett XXVII, “…you are blue as a night in Cuba; you’ve vines and stars in your hair….you are spacious and yellow as summer in a golden church..”