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2019 Havana International Study Tour

An introduction to the history, architecture, and urbanism of Havana with Professor Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez

Havana International Study Tour, March 2019

The tour will provide the participants with an introduction to the history of the Architecture and Urbanism of Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its urban evolution.

The expert guide will be Professor Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez, who is currently Associate Professor at the School of Architecture of the University of Notre Dame, has lectured widely about Cuban Architecture and Urbanism in the most prestigious institutions in the US, Canada and Europe, and has been a guest speaker at many international conferences. He is the only Cuban Loeb Fellow in history at Harvard University where he was selected the 20012-Wilbur Marvin Visiting Scholar. Professor Perez Hernandez was Adjunct Professor at the School of Architecture in Havana from 1998 to 2006 and is the author of two major books “Inside Cuba” (2006) and “Inside Havana” (2011) and drafted “A Master Plan for 21st Century Havana”, a comprehensive urban project for the future development of Havana. The author of numerous articles published by professional journals. His next two books on Cuban architecture and urban design will be published in 2019 by Trinity University Press, San Antonio, Texas, USA. Julio Cesar Perez has led the annual Havana International Charrette on Urban Planning and Urban Design since 2007 and has led numerous International Study Tours for international institutions and VIPs along the past 20 years.

The cost of the registration fees for the International Study Tour is $1,250.00 USD per participant or its equivalent in other currencies, such as Euros, British (Sterling) Pounds, etc.

A Non-Refundable Deposit of $1,000.00 is required

This is a separate fee from the Charrette’s

For Registration, please, contact Professor Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez at:

Travel. This is a high-level educational trip. Upon registration, participants receive an Official Letter of Invitation from INTBAU London that will allow to get a visa to travel legally to Cuba.

Visas. Every international participant will need a visa to visit Cuba. INTBAU will provide an Official Letter of Invitation that will allow US participants to get the visa to travel to Cuba legally.

Airfare. All participants are responsible for obtaining their visas and airfare from the place they live to travel to Havana. This means that all participants must arrange their own trip.

Accommodation. All participants are responsible for their accommodation either in hotels or in a Casa Particular (rooms in private houses and apartments).

The Organizers. This Study Tour is organized by INTBAU Cuba and CEU Cuba, who have successfully organized and led similar events since 2007. Professor Julio César Pérez is the Chair of both chapters C.E.U. & I.N.T.B.A.U. Cuba. Please, contact him at


Courtyard of Casa de la Obrapia, ca. 1665, Old Havana

Havana International Study Tour Schedule

Day 0. Arrival.


Day 1. Sunday, March 10, 2019 Morning Walking Tour of Old Havana. 9.00 am-12.30 pm.

Meeting at Plaza de Armas. 9.00 am


Afternoon. Walking Tour of ‘The Walls’ district. Meeting at statue of Jose Marti at the Parque Central

Evening. Free


Day 2. Monday, March 11, 2019. Morning Walking Tour of El Vedado. 9.00 am-12.30 pm.

Meeting at University of Havana


Afternoon: Walking Tour of El Vedado. Meeting at Hotel Colina, El Vedado.

Evening. Free


Day 3. Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Morning Bus Tour of Miramar. 9.00 am-12.30 pm.

Lunch: Suggested venue: Paladar Vistamar

Afternoon: Free

Detailed Schedule. Havana International Study Tour

Day 1. Morning Walking Tour Old Havana. 900-12.30 pm. Meeting: Plaza de Armas. 8.45 am

Learn about the foundation of the city of Havana, its public spaces (a system of interconnected pedestrian squares) and its most important buildings that display a wide range of architectural styles. Learn also about historic preservation in Old.

Visit the 4 oldest squares of the old city and the most representative buildings around them:

– Plaza de Armas. 16th Century. Starting at The Templete, a commemorative monument built by Colonel Antonio Maria de la Torre in 1819.  The site is considered the place where Havana was founded and marks the stylistic transition between Baroque and Neoclassical styles, the place where the first mass and the first town council were celebrated. Learn about the settling of Havana by its sheltering harbor and the Renaissance’ style Royal Force Castle, the most ancient bastioned fortress preserved in America.

Learn about the urban transformation of the former Military Parade Ground into Havana’s first civic center around 1776 and its major urban features and about the new palaces that were built then that became the models for the rest of the public buildings to be built around the most important squares, such as the recently restored and repurposed Palacio del Segundo Cabo or Royal Post Office (1770-1791) and Palacio de los Capitanes Generales (1776-1791) authored by Antonio Fernandez Trevejos and Pedro de Medina. Learn about the building’s historical and architectural importance. Walk along Oficios Street and visit some of the Moorish-style buildings on your way to the Saint Francis of Assisi square.

– Plaza de San Francisco de Asís. Learn about the history and urban evolution of this square since the 17th Century and its commercial role and about the 1735 Baroque-style Church and Convent of Saint Francis of Assisi with its tower overlooking the square and its coral stone facade.

Learn about the 1908 Stock Exchange of Havana by award-winning Spanish architect Tomás Mur —built by Purdy & Henderson, the most prestigious US company working in Havana in only 16 months— and about the 1914 Custom House by US firm Barclay, Parsons and Klapp, whose first pier was renovated in 1996 for a cruise ships terminal.

– Plaza Vieja. Walk the square where the restoration process is best witnessed and learn about its subsequent transformations since the 19th Century. Admire the variety of buildings in the square from the 1735 Casa de Condes de Jaruco, with its beautiful stained-glass windows and with its central inner courtyard surrounded by beautiful arcades and its original colorful friezes to the surrounding 19th and 20th Century houses. Admire buildings of different styles from colonial vernacular to Art Nouveau or Catalonian Modernism.

Plaza Vieja. Photo: Caesar Studio Archives

Plaza de la Catedral. Walk across the 18th Century square and sense the consistency and intimate scale and the fine urban architecture that defines it with its public porches and stone portals signing their entrances. Admire the building’ s courtyards, their stained-glass windows and fine wrought iron railings.

Learn about the 1725 Casa de Condes de Bayona —currently the Museum of Colonial Art of Cuba— and about the Casa del Marqués de Arcos and Casa del Conde de Lombillo, both unified by a lovely Florentine arcade and, also, about the 1751 Casa del Marqués de Aguas Claras; and the Cathedral of Havana, the greatest example of Cuban Baroque-style, finished in 1777.

Afternoon Walking Tour. ‘The Walls’. 2.00-5.00 pm. Meeting: Parque Central. 2.00 pm

Learn about the expansion of the city off the walls after they were torn down in 1863, and visit the buildings whose bigger print and scale transformed the image of Havana forever. And learn also about the importance of Havana’s Urban Code (the 1865 Ordinances) that granted Havana its urban consistency. Depart from the statue of Jose Marti at the Parque Central by sculptor Vilalta de Saavedra, once the very heart of Havana, redesigned in 1904 by Cuban architect Eugenio Batista.

Learn about the most important buildings around it: the historical 1879 England hotel and the 1915 Great Theater of Havana —former Centro Asturiano— by Belgian architect Paul Belau and then, across the park, the 1927 Centro Asturiano, designed by Spanish Architect Manuel del Busto —currently the Fine Arts Museum.

Walk across the Capitolio gardens originally designed by French landscape designer J.C. N. Forestier and admire the Capitol of Havana under its restoration —to become the seat of the National Parliament —and Forestier’s nearby Park of Fraternity. See the 1927 Cuban Telephone Company by Cuban architect Leonardo Morales as well as the famous Partagas cigar factory, showing a great example of mixed-use and how a non-pollutant industry could be part of a residential block.

Enjoy walking along the promenade the Paseo del Prado, considered one of the best open spaces in the world and was redesigned by French landscape designer J.C. N. Forestier and Cuban architect Raul Otero in 1929. Admire the buildings along the Paseo del Prado such as the 1914 Casino Español by Catalonian architect Eugenio Dediot and the original Neo-Moorish style façade of the 1908 Seville Hotel, and its extension by US firm Schultze & Weaver in 1923 whose roof garden affords panoramic views of Havana and served as inspiration for the firm’s 1926 Biltmore Hotel in Miami. Visit the recently restored Sloppy Joe’s Bar, one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite, and the 1930 Bacardi Headquarters Building  (the Jewel of Art Déco in Cuba) and enjoy the beautiful design of its lobby and mezzanine bar.


Day 2. Morning Walking Tour of El Vedado. 9.00-12.30 pm. Meeting: University of Havana

El Vedado, laid out by Spanish Engineer Luis Yboleon in 1859, marked the birth of modern planning in Cuba. It was based on a perfect grid rotated 45 degrees to the North to better catch the prevailing breezes and avoid the sun, Visit the Garden City of El Vedado, laid out by Spanish engineer Luis Yboleon in 1859-60 per modern planning concepts. The neighborhood is considered the most important urban initiative since colonial times. The plan introduced the green in the city for the first time with tree-lined avenues and parterres, and provided a very effective and yet simple, model for separating the private and the public realm with a garden setback.

Visit the 1906-40 University of Havana campus, laid out along a main axis flanked by a consistent group of Neoclassical-style buildings. A monumental staircase leads to the 1921 Rectorate by Enrique Martinez crowned by an owl and to the central square that flows into the vestibule of the adjacent buildings: the1937 Art Deco-style Central Library by Joaquin Weiss followed by the 1911 Magna Classroom (designed by Francisco Ramírez Ovando and Emilio Heredia), and the Eclectic-style 1939 Science Building by Pedro Martinez Inclan, with its beautiful courtyard.

Visit the so-called Dolce Dimora, the 1928 Napoleon´s Museum, a Florentine style villa originally designed by Cuban architects Govantes & Cabarrocas for Orestes Ferrara. Enjoy its magnificent interior spaces with Italian marble floors and coffered ceilings made out of Cuban precious woods.

Enjoy the Art Déco and Streamline Moderne’style apartments influenced by South Beach in Miami, on your way to visit the former Hilton Hotel, designed by Welton Becket & Associates with Cuban architects Arroyo & Menendez in 1958. Admire the Radiocentro building, designed by Junco, Gaston and Dominguez in 1947and the world-famous Coppelia Ice Cream Parlor designed by late Cuban architect Mario Girona in 1966, as well as the award-winning 1953 Odontological Building and the 1958 Ministry of Public Health by late Cuban architect Antonio Quintana Simonetti.

Visit the 1963 Cuba Pavilion by Juan Campos and admire the numerous mixed-use buildings with shops at ground floor level and housing on their upper floors. See the 1956 FOCSA building, designed by Ernesto Gomez Sampera and Martin Dominguez, considered the best reinforced concrete apartment building in the Americas in the 1950s and learn about its negative urban impact, despite its brilliant architectural design.

Visit the historic 1930 National Hotel by McKim, Meade and White with its cozy lobby, beautiful C-shape veranda and lovely gardens oriented to the sea.

Lunch. 12.00-2.00 pm.


Afternoon Bus of El Vedado. 2.00-5.00 pm. Meeting at Hotel Colina at 2.00 pm

From the bus, admire the tree-lined avenues of Paseo and Avenue of the Presidents and visit the 1957 Riviera Hotel, originally designed by Philip Johnson. It was financed by mobster Meyer Lansky. See the 1953 US Embassy in Havana by US architects Harrison and Abramowitz, the designers of the UN Headquarters in Manhattan.

Enjoy the tree-lined Paseo Street and visit the appealing and unique 1926 Baro-Lasa mansion, designed by Cuban firm Govantes and Cabarrocas with Art Déco interiors and exquisite glass works by French designer René Lalique.

Visit the 1927 French Renaissance style mansion of the Countess of Revilla Camargo, designed by French architects Viard and Destugue, currently the Museum of Decorative Arts.

Day 3. Morning Bus Tour of Miramar. 9.00-12.30 pm. The US Influence in Havana

From the bus, see the 1949 Bauhaus-like house of Max Borges Jr. and Art Déco buildings, California mission style residences, modern apartment buildings and former private clubs on our way to the scale model of Havana where you will learn about the negative impact of the Miramar Trade Center Office Park the new hotels and the 1980 Soviet Embassy —tallest building in Miramar— in Havana’s urban fabric.

From the bus, see the westernmost suburbs inspired by the City beautiful movement from Frederick Law Olmstead, with Eclectic-style villas from the first decades of the 20th Century.

Visit the School of Plastic Arts in the campus for the world-famous Schools of Art of Havana. It was built between 1961 and1965 in the exclusive area of the former Golf Course of the Country Club of Havana.

Lunch at Paladar Vistamar, 12.30-1.45 pm. A private restaurant. The former house of Cuban architect Miguel Gaston by the water includes an infinity pool overlooked from the dining area.

Afternoon: Free

Havana International Charrette

The Havana International Charrette will focus on El Vedado and will build on the previous work developed by INTBAU Cuba since 2007. International developers, businessmen, architects, planners, artists and people in general are invited to join Cuban experts and local communities for a half-week Charrette from March 13-15, 2019 to develop proposals for the regeneration and development of El Vedado district and its waterfront area.

The Charrette will fit both educational and professional purposes and will give participants an introduction to the history of Havana’s cultural heritage through close contact with its traditions, architecture and urbanism while focusing on the garden city of El Vedado and its waterfront area. The Charrette seeks the participation of individuals who share a respectful attitude to new interventions in historical contexts, and who value the creation of places where humans can live in, work in and enjoy.


The cost of the registration fees for the Havana International Charrette is $1,250.00 USD per participant or its equivalent in other currencies, such as Euros, British (Sterling) Pounds, etc. 

This is a separate fee from the International Tour that precedes the Charrette

Participants may choose to participate in either one of the events or both.

A Non-Refundable Deposit of $1,000.00 is required

Please, contact Professor Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez for Registration at:


Project Objectives

 Test and evaluate the ideas of ¨A Master Plan for 21th Century Havana¨ for El Vedado district and their feasibility and implementation based on the city´s current needs

 Elaborate ideas for the development of the waterfront sectors of El Vedado

 Promote an integrated vision between the natural condition and the built environment

 Promote and highlight the importance of a long-term vision for the garden city of El Vedado that preserves its fabric and character and grants social and cultural diversity

 Evaluate the benefits of the transformation of El Vedado in economic and urban terms to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants

 Increase urban open space, housing and commerce along the waterfront and evaluate their impact at city level

 Reshape the civic and urban landscape of El Vedado and surrounding neighborhoods by increasing the green areas and by exploring new mixed-use infill development

 Interact with local experts about the building environment and business possibilities in Cuba

Site of the Charrette: El Vedado Waterfront.


What is a Charrette? An especially intense workshop where people meet and work.

It is a public process where people collaborate on a vision for future development. It provides a forum for ideas and offers the unique advantage of giving immediate feedback to the designers and contribute as part of a team. It is designed for developers, investors, architects, planners and anyone with an interest in understanding Cuba’s traditions and culture. Previous Charrettes brought participants from Argentina, Australia, Colombia, Cuba, UK, USA, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia, Mexico among other countries

Professional Program

Venue: Hebrew Center, 17th Street, corner to E Street, El Vedado, Havana


Day 1. Morning Session. March 13, 2019. 8.30-12.30 pm. Introduction. Lectures and presentations. Work in teams

Lunch on your own. 12.30-1.30 pm

Afternoon Session. 1.30-5.30 pm. Studio Work. Preliminary ideas and proposals.


Day 2. Morning Session. March 14, 2019. 8.30-12.30 pm.

Studio Work. Review of preliminary ideas and proposals.

Lunch on your own

Afternoon Session. 1.30-5.30 pm. Studio work. Presentation of preliminary ideas. Pin-up


Day 3. Morning Session. March 15, 2019. 8.30-12.30 pm.

Studio Work. Refinement of proposals. Studio work to prepare final presentation

Lunch on your own. 12.30-1.30 pm

Afternoon Session. 1.30-5.30 pm. Final Presentation. Public Discussion

Introduction and Final Remarks: Professor Julio César Pérez Hernandez


Please, contact Professor Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez at



The Organizers

This Charrette is organized by INTBAU Cuba, who has successfully organized and led similar events since 2007.

Participating Cuban Experts

 Prof. Arch. & Urban Planner Julio C. Pérez, Chair CEU & INTBAU Cuba. UNEAC

 Architect & Urban Planner Joel Estevez, CEU, INTBAU

 Architect & Urban Planner Esteban Martinez, CEU, INTBAU, UNEAC

 Architect Jorge Araguez, CEU, INTBAU Cuban Supporting Organizations


 Office of The Historian of the City of Havana, OHCH

 National Guild of Artists and Writers of Cuba, UNEAC

 National Guild of Architects and Engineers of Cuba, UNAICC


As usual. the Charrette will be preceded by an International Study Tour led by Cuban Professor Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez, whose schedule is available upon request.


The Charrette Site. El Vedado


El Vedado was the most important urban initiative in the 19th Century and marked the birth of modern planning in Cuba. The country and especially Havana, enjoyed prosperity and splendor based upon a steady economic growth that originated in the second half of the previous century. Progressive institutions, such as the influential Economic Society, favored an ambience of openness to science, technology and management that helped to insert Cuba into the world economy and allowed Havana to adapt to multiple changes. The same institution put Cuba on the map with the introduction of the railroad in 1837, before Spain.

Culture reached broader sectors of the society and fostered the gradual consolidation of a strong sense of identity. In architecture, Neoclassicism was embraced as the new style and expressed an aspiration to order, rationality and perfection.

Along the first half of the 19th Century, the city underwent important transformations as the existing colonial urbanism was overtaken in terms of urban expansion and continuity, as well as strategic needs. Colonel-engineer Antonio María de la Torre’s Plan de Ensanche for Havana (1817-1819), was the first of its kind in Hispanic America, using the existing roads. It connected the old town with the hinterland to guide the expansion of the city beyond the walls in an orderly manner; new streeetscapes derived from the arcaded streets —the so-called Calzadas— and their prominence established commercial arteries that became a trademark for Havana.

Along the Calzada del Cerro, the affluent bourgeoisie built a series of free-standing Neoclassical villas, called quintas, with gardens and porches that would influence El Vedado ’streetscapes.

Other major urban transformations —in terms of scale and design— took place during governor Miguel Tacon’s term (1834-1838) giving Havana a new monumental image, which reached its peak in The Walls district, or The Ring of Havana, laid out by Juan Bautista Orduña in 1865.

By 1565 all sort of transit was forbidden in the area called Mount Vedado, which means forbidden in Spanish. Around 1645, Italian Engineer Bautista Antonelli built a colonial fortress named Santa Dorotea de la Luna de La Chorrera as part of Havana’s defensive system near the mouth of the Almendares River —then named La Chorrera River— the place where Havana settled after an initial settlement on the south coast.

In 1859, El Carmelo, the westernmost farm land along the river, was surveyed by Spanish engineer Luis Yboleon Bosque for its ‘unparalled beauty and hygiene’ for drafting a plan for a new neighborhood named El Carmelo comprising 105 blocks, followed by another one in 1860, initially with 29 blocks, named El Vedado.

The latter had an extension consisting of 100 blocks by Alberto de Campo and Jose de Ocampo in 1877 and 1878, while the rest of the adjacent land was subsequently subdivided into several neighborhoods, the fusion of all becoming El Vedado.

The plan for El Vedado emphasized order, with a regular grid defined by tree-lined avenues along which the lots were laid out in square blocks measuring 100 m aside. The building’s frontage featured a setback for private gardens and porches, allowing for an effective separation between the public and the private realm. This, ensured privacy and created a very distinct streetscape that would be signed by the hierarchy of the street network where two major green axes stand out —Paseo or Avenue of the Mayors and Avenue of The Presidents, or G Street— because of their cross section and urban design features as linear parks.

El Vedado reached its maximum splendor along the first decades of the 20th Century when the international price of sugar cane peaked. Beautiful eclectic mansions were built then as the economy allowed for a construction boom.

The district continued to develop along the next decades at the time public space was also shaped, by leaving entire blocks unbuilt to devoted them to parks and gardens within the grid. Other blocks were devoted to markets and schools.

The neighborhood’s image and environment also benefited from the development of the Malecón, started by US engineers Mead and Whitney in 1901, that reshaped Havana’s waterfront and became an iconic seaside boulevard showing Havana’s capacity to reaffirm its Genius Loci. The final stretch of the Malecon reached El Vedado in the late 1950s.

Besides the afore mentioned colonial fortress, there are many other landmarks that stand out within the district such as the Christopher Columbus Necropolis (1871-1886), the University of Havana (1905-1940) and the Prince’s Castle (1767-1779) to mention but a few.

The Almendares River, on the West of El Vedado, is Havana’s most important river and it was the city’s s second settlement before the Spanish finally settled by the harbor and it is one of the city’s most important environmental assets. Its banks are worth of preserving and call for a sensitive project (2).

The Republic’s Square, Havana’s administrative and political center, an unfinished project built in the 1950s, is located to the southernmost part of El Vedado, on a place formerly known as Ermita de los Catalanes.  It was considered the ideal geographic center of the capital by world famous local and international architects, since the beginning of the 20th Century but still lacks the appropriate scale and urban design whose redesign is still pending today (1).

In El Vedado, outstanding examples of modern architecture coexist with Eclectic style buildings, Art Déco style and Streamline Modern. However, the harmonious scale of the district was altered and disrupted by the presence of tall buildings erected in the 1950s. Some of them, like the FOCSA building (1954-1956) and the Havana Hilton Hotel (1958), are too massive and overwhelming in urban terms. They even violated the existing urban codes regarding floor area ratio and free lot coverage. Currently, some coastal areas within the district are affected by flooding.

El Vedado is the most desired neighborhood for Cubans. It has a lot of amenities and its green spaces and proximity to the sea makes it very appealing.

However, on the one hand, it faces multiple challenges mostly derived from violations of its urban codes and calls for its urban rehabilitation. On the other hand, it offers many opportunities for the future redevelopment of its waterfront areas, the upgrading of infrastructure, the increase of public space and mixed-use urban infill, creating new economic opportunities, while maintaining the district’s identity.

A non-reimbursable deposit equivalent to $1,000.00 is mandatory as a proof of commitment

  • INTBAU Cuba will reimburse 100% of the deposit and any other payment if, for any reason, the events are cancelled

Contact: Professor Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez