La Haban Vieja: Walls – Terrace – Metainstitute

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 9:53

Post by Corrado Curti | This post is a new entry on No Place to Hide: an online map of potential places


Title: La Haban Vieja: Walls – Terrace – Metainstitute
Place: La Habana, Cuba, 23°8′0″N 82°23′0″W
Type: Project
Author: Lebbeus Woods
Date: 1995

Description: The proposal by Lebbeus Woods for La Habana Vieja was developed during the workshop “Architecture Again” organised by Peter Noever, CEO of the Wien MAK, in 1995. According to Peter Noever the aim of the workshop was “to examine the specific and urgent project of Havana as a model that epitomized many of the problems that are facing and will face architects in cities all over the world in the later-20th and the 21st century”. (2)

Other participants were: Coop Himmelb(l)au, Morphosis/Thom Mayne, Eric Owen Moss, Carme Pinòs, C.P.P.N. (Carl Pruscha/Peter Noever)
According to Lebbeus Woods’ description of the project for la Habana Vieja:
“A new urban wall is proposed along the line of the Spanish colonial city wall, in order to concentrate the energies in La Habana Vieja, intensifying at the same time the processes of decay and new growth. Other walls – called ‘urban batteries’ – contain energy cells and water purification units that can be tapped by adjacent dwellings. Structurally, they support new, spontaneous constructions that are made in the gaps opened up by the demolition of old buildings in the existing cityscape. Their use is not determined in advance but only in the idiosyncratic and always changing ways they are inhabited. As a provocation and an armature for change, the walls do not simply separate spaces, but sponsor new and experimental forms of building and living”. (3)

The bulding-machine on the Malécon takes on a very different topic: a pivoting terrace along the seaside boulevard of la Habana, cantilevered over the sea, that during hurricane floods is tilted by flood tide force to become a seawall protecting the town.

The Metainstitute is conceived as an “institute for the study of the idea and practice of institutions. […] The metainstitute propose for Havana (explored in three variations) is devoted to the analysis and invention of both stable and fluid urban terrains, the ambiguous, paradoxical, and unpredictable landscapes of the contemporary city that embody forces of change”. (3)

Lebbeus Woods and the other workshop participants stayed in La Habana several days to elaborate their projects.

Bibliography: Peter Noever, The Havana Project: Architecture Again, Prestel Publishing, Munich 1995 (2)
Lebbeus Woods, Radical Reconstruction, Princeton Architectural Press, New York 1997

Web: (3) (1) (4) (5)

Images: La Habana Vieja images 1, 2, 3, source (1)
El Malécon, source (4)
Metainstitute, source (5)

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