Havana Waterfront

Havana, La Habana

As part of an eight-week urban studio that involved a trip to Havana, fifth-year University of Notre Dame architecture students were tasked with repairing the city’s waterfront along the Avenida de Puerto. The Avenida is more than 135 meters wide, and the only building is an open-air theater. Students proposed a plan to extend the urban fabric to the edge of the channel while providing a four-lane boulevard and a broad walkway directly on the water’s edge.

Rob Krier found much to admire in the students’ work. “The urban design conception, as well as the quality of the hand drawn plans were of such an exuberant quality, that it merits an outstanding award to the students as well as to the teachers,” he wrote. “With this project the city of Havana would become a real waterfront comparable to the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice or the bay of San Sebastian – and with even better architecture.”

Havana Waterfront Havana beforeHavana Waterfront Havana after
A before and after depiction of the proposal. Source: University of Notre Dame.

The proposal envisions the creation of a new plaza around the currently existing statue of Maximiliano Gómez, which now stands in the middle of a roundabout.

Each block contains a variety of buildings ranging from two- or three-bay houses to larger buildings. A new courthouse, performance hall, maritime museum, market hall, church, and stock exchange are all part of the plan. Most ground floors are dedicated to commercial activities, while upper levels serve more private purposes.

“The individual projects exhibit a high level of skill in bringing traditional designs to a modern program and in representation renderings,” expressed Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. “While the jury questioned the advisability of infilling open space, accepting the premise undertaken by the faculty guiding the project, we thought it appropriate to recognize the excellent execution of the master plan and the individual projects.”

Top photo: An aerial of the proposal. Source: University of Notre Dame.

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