Cuba Culture

Documentary on Cuban architecture from the 1950s

Posted October 12, 2011 by publisher in Cuba Culture.

Here’s a great article by Sam Lubell of The Architect’s Newspaper about a documentary on Cuban architecture titled “Unfinished Spaces: Cuba’s Architecture of Revolution”.

It was directed by Alysa Nahmias and Ben Murray and runs for 86 minutes. It will be shown at the Architecture and Design Film Festival at Tribeca Cinemas in New York City on October 19, 2011.

So close to our shores, yet so off limits, Cuba has long been forbidden fruit; the place we’re not supposed to go, but that has wowed a steady trickle of adventurous travelers. In recent years, photographers and now filmmakers are bringing back images of a place lost to time: a land of old cars and decaying buildings, and people living as they did in the 1950s. But beyond these first impressions, fraught with clichéd vignettes, there are so many more reasons to take a closer look.

Among them is a chance to explore Cuba’s National Schools of Art, incredible buildings that I had never heard of before watching the new documentary Unfinished Spaces, by directors Alysa Nahmias and Ben Murray. The film charts the buildings’ rise, fall, and subsequent re-emergence years later, a chronicle that also happens to mirror the initial thrills and subsequent disappointments of Cuba’s communist revolution.

Commissioned in 1961, shortly after the revolution, by Fidel Castro himself, the schools were built on the site of a former golf course near Havana by architects Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi, and Vittorio Garatti. The fluid, highly expressive structures, made mostly of layered and vaulted concrete and terra cotta tiles, were an example of visionary modern architecture and engineering. They embodied a nation’s striving to provide an arts education for all social classes. The film records how when they first opened—and even before construction was completed—they were celebrated as perfect examples of a merging of cultures and artistic talents, from music to dance to visual arts. Apparently, they were also havens of free expression where free love thrived under the excitement of early revolutionary times.

“It was a beautiful experiment,” says Manuel Lopez Oliva… READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

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