In 2002 I had the privilege of presenting an academic paper in Havana, Cuba. The event was the 2002 International Conference held by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. The trip offered a rare glimpse into the embargoed republic.
While there I took in the rich tropical-colonial architecture and urban spaces. The latter especially interested me as a subject to sketch, as it did in Merida, Florence, and Rome. In addition to life views, I made plan and section sketches of streets and squares, inspired by Camillo Sitte (by way of Rob Krier).
I also sketched “in-between” spaces. In traditional cities, the spaces which occur in-between buildings and urban spaces – colonnades especially – are very important. These liminal zones mediate the transition from the public domain of an urban space to the more private domain of the building interior. In hot climates they act as sunscreens and refuges from glaring sunlight.
Of course, in the aesthetics of Spanish Colonial architecture , such social and practical intentions are expressed through rules relating to proportion, material and light. And so, you’ll see that some these sketches include dimensions – the critical measurements of forms and spaces which, as Sitte put it, grounded the “artistic principles” on which early cities were planned.
Here are some of the sketches I made in Havana:
© Donald E. Armstrong and Material Practices, 2013