2012 Havana International Charrette on Urban Planning and Urban Design
6th Havana Waterfront Charrette Program. February 19th-25th, 2012
|Parque Maceo Havana. Originally eapeard on e-architect.|
The 2012 Charrette Site, Centro Habana
Centro Habana was the first suburb of Havana and its origins date back from the early 1700s. The increase of the agricultural activity in the rural territories off the walls for granting the Spanish Fleet the necessary supplies and the expanding shipbuilding industry contributed to the birth of the first settlements. A small church devoted to the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1716 would define the so considered first neighbourhood (at Monte and Aguila streets) while the relocation of the Real Arsenal in 1734 to the South by the Atares area and the layout of the Alameda de Extramuros (Off the Walls Promenade) by the Marquis de la Torre around 1772 also contributed to the expansion of the city. The first cemetery of Havana was built in 1804 — the Espada Cemetery, named after Bishop Espada, while the first hospital outside the walls was built in 1714 (San Lazaro hospital).
The Alameda de Extramuros established a significant urban axis and expressed an early assimilation of the new European trends about the appreciation and enjoyment of Nature in the cities. In 1817 a regulating plan — Plan de Ensanche, the first of its kind in Havana executed by a qualified group of engineers led by Colonel Engineer Antonio Maria de la Torre y Cardenas based on a grid — guided the expansion of the city beyond the walls in an orderly manner by using the existing layout of the roads that connected the walled city with the countryside. The plan established a hierarchy of streets where the main arteries called 'calzadas" would become the most distinctive feature of Havana's new streetscape and stood in clear contrast with the character of Old Havana. The so called 'calzadas' play a role as linear axes that not only define different neighbourhoods but provide a variety of mixed uses.
Centro Habana is the most diverse district of Havana, the most densely populated and the most dilapidated one. Due to construction speculation during the first decades of the 20th century and neglect of almost half a century the district is currently decaying and many buildings have collapsed.
Centro Habana is located to the North and the center of Havana so that The Straits of Florida is the natural limit and The Malecon its physical border to the North while El Cerro district — also named after another 'calzada' — is the South border. Old Havana is to the East and El Vedado district is to the West.
For the Master Plan purpose — and also for the Charrette's — the Centro Habana waterfront sector is defined by the presence of both colonial fortresses, La Punta (1589-1600) and The Morro Castle (1589-1630), the Pasao del Prado and the Torreon de San Lazaro (1665). This sector is quite different in character from the harbor and from East Havana in terms of environmental issues, urban landscape, heritage presence, urban and architectural typologies, urban design and architecture.
The Challenges are many and huge but the most important one will be the integration of this territory as proposed in the Master Plan following its guidelines and design — urban, landscape and architectural — codes so that the whole waterfront is developed according to both its vocation and its potential to give Havana a new facade related to the sea, that orients new urban development to the sea and creates an urban realm according and a sustainable environment. Another major challenge will consist in the integration of this area with the rest of Havana in both physical and cultural terms so that it gives continuity to the tradition of excellence of Havana's urbanism and architecture.
Due to the lack of open space and high density the current population of about 154,000 is considered to live in extreme environmental conditions with 1.5 Centrigrade degree above the average of the city. Green scarcity also contributes to the heat increase even though the breeze coming from the sea seems to occasionally alleviate the situation.
More: Here. Details about the program: Here.