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Modernism

Havana, like Las Vegas in the 40s and 50s developed from marketing itself as a destination for gambling and holidays in the sun. It became a haven for criminals, gangsters and playboys. Many high-rise office buildings and apartment complexes approved by Bastista government helped dramatically alter the skyline.

Modernism, therefore, transformed much of the city and should be noted for it's individual buildings of high quality rather than its larger key buildings. Examples of the latter are Habana Libre (1958), which before the revolution was the Havana Hilton Hotel and La Rampa movie theatre (1955). Famous architects such as Walter Gropius, Richard Neutra and Oscar Nieymer all passed through the city while strong influences can be seen in Havana at this time from Le Corbusier and Mies Van de Rohe.

The Plaza de la Revolution, the political centre of the country features many modernist monumental buildings including the National Theatre (1958) reminiscent of London's Royal Festival Hall. Also in this plaza are the Palace Presidential (1958), the Ministry of the Interior and Memorial to Jose Marti (1958), the tallest tower in Cuba at 109 metres.

The Edificio Focsa (1956) represents Havana's booming economy and foreign influence at the time. This 35-storey complex was conceived and based on Corbusian ideas of a self-contained city within a city. It contained 400 apartments, garages, a school and restaurant on the top floor. This was the tallest concrete structure in the world at the time and the ultimate symbol of luxury.

It is worth noting that huge developments were planned and would had certainly been constructed if not for the revolution. Jose Luis Sert designed an artificial island off the Malecon. It was to incorporate huge modern towers, hotels, casinos and shopping centres which would cater for the city's growing tourism. High-rise buildings were to replace Colonial blocks and buildings. It would have drastically altered Havana's profile.

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Habana Libre, Havana, Cuba
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