Purple Travel

[June 5 2015]

A visit to the Instituto Superior de Arte, Havana

Once upon a time, there was an exclusive Country Club Park in Havana. After the Revolution, in January 1961, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, having finished a golf game, dreamt about this Country Club as an incredible complex of tuition-free art schools, highly experimental and conceptually advanced to serve the creation of a “new culture” for the “new man”. That’s how the ISA – Instituto Superior de Arte – was born. To realize such dream, three young and very talented architects were called: Ricardo Porro (Cuba, 1925 – 2014), Roberto Gottardi (Italy, 1927), Vittorio Garatti (Italy, 1927). Immense Catalan vaults, thousands of bricks and a sky-high ambitious objective were the main elements of one of the most incredible architecture ever conceived. However, by the 1965, the Soviet-inspired functionalist forms became standard in Cuba. Thus, the Art Schools with its exuberant structure and the three architects were accused of being incompatible with the Cuban Revolution, and the entire project was decommissioned. Never fully completed, ISA was left abandoned and overgrown by the jungle until preservation efforts began in the first decade of the 21st Century. The ISA is currently being considered for inclusion on the World Heritage list of sites of “outstanding universal value” to the world.

Text and photo Keisuke Otobe

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