Havana, Cuba III: El Malecon

Prerequisites:Students will be expected to possess a high degree of design interest and capability. It is anticipated that the studio will call upon the following interests and will include: Urban design and planning at the master plan scale Architectural design at the scale of an individual project Landscape architecture design Transportation related design Course Description:This semester\’s Havana studio will focus on the seven-kilometer long oceanfront roadway known as El Malecon. This iconic waterfront boulevard is Havana\’s premier open space and indeed one of the more intriguing public spaces in the world. The Historian of the City of Havana has described the Malecon as \”the Gateway to Havana,\” and even in its current deteriorated condition the Malecon has a strong magnetic attraction to residents and visitors alike. It is \”the place to be\” in Havana for people watching, political rallies, ocean gazing, viewing the city and its monuments, and even swimming for the local children. In spite of its strength as an urban space, the Malecon is also emblematic of the difficulties in modern Cuba. Severe building fagade deterioration, the lack of viable landscaping, and a high degree of water pollution continue be among the difficulties still to be overcome.Situated along the northern boundary of the city at the sea, the Malecon passes along the edge of different neighborhoods and thus assumes a changing personality along its seven-kilometer length. It is quite remarkable in this regard and it is this distinctive characteristic that makes the Malecon an appropriate challenge for an advanced design studio. Zone 1: It is here at the easternmost end of the waterfront from the Real Fuerza Fort in the heart of Old Havana to the Paseo del Prado that is the starting point of the Malecon. This sector possesses a great degree of spatial definition along the mouth of Havana Harbor between East Havana and Old Havana. Zone 2: This sector of the Malecon, between the Paseo del Prado and Belascoain Street, consists of fourteen blocks at the northern edge of Central Havana. A beautiful, yet deteriorated, one and a half kilometer long urban fagade wall, with a continuous pedestrian arcade, characterizes this distinctive section of the Malecon. Zone 3: Continuing westward from Belascoain to La Rampa (23rd Street), this section is characterized by a compact urban landscape of mixed-use structures that include older single-family dwellings and larger multi-family buildings. The large Antonio Maceo Park and the high-rise \”Hermanos Ameijeras\” hospital add a strong but disruptive scale to the street.Zone 4: This sector, La Rampa to Avenida de los Presidentes (G Street), contains the former U.S. Embassy (now the U.S. Interests Section) along with the recently constructed Protest Plaza. It is defined by its large undefined spaces adjacent to the Malecon and an impenetrable topographical change at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Zone 5: This last sector stretches from G Street to the mouth of the Almendares River, where the pedestrian scale of the Malecon becomes more ambiguous due to the lack of amenities, where the block structure is elongated and occupied by high-rise object buildings, such as the Hotel Rivera and new Melia Cohiba Hotel. At the extreme western end of the Malecon, along the El Vedado shore, the Malecon passes the former El Vedado Tennis Club before disappearing into the tunnel to the western suburb of Miramar.It is intended that this studio will engage the entire length of the Malecon, as well as the bordering blocks of the contiguous neighborhoods of Old Havana, Central Havana, and El Vedado. Design issues relating to the preservation, adaptive reuse, and new construction within the Havana city fabric will be explored. This urban design studio will be open to students from each of the GSD departme