The 2016 World Monuments Watch features 50 sites in 36 countries that are at risk from the forces of nature and the impact of social, political, and economic change. (see World Monuments Fund's website)
Colonial Churches of Santiago de Cuba
The ensemble of Colonial Churches of Santiago de Cuba included on the 2016 World Monuments Watch comprises twelve churches and their adjacent plazas that date from the early sixteenth to the end of the nineteenth century. Eight are located in the urban center of Santiago, the colonial capital of Cuba, while four are located in rural parishes in the villages around the town. The urban churches are: the Cathedral of Santiago de Cuba, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (1526-1810), Santa Lucia (1701), Santo Tomas (1715), Nuestra Señora de los Dolores (1722), San Francisco (1745), Nuestra Señora del Carmen (1766), Santísima Trinidad (1787), and Cristo de la Salud (1827). The rural parishes include: San Luis Obispo, El Caney (1691), Santiago Apostol, El Cobre (1638), El Cristo (1878), and San Jose y Rafael, Cayo Granma (1878). (read full text)
Havana’s district of El Vedado features some of the best examples of early and mid-twentieth century architecture and urban planning in Cuba, including buildings in the neoclassical, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco styles, as well as works of the Modern movement. The neighborhood was initially developed in the second half of the nineteenth century, harmoniously laying down tree-lined streets and avenues to define an urban grid punctuated with green areas. It developed slowly at the beginning, but after 1915 the influx of wealthy residents to the area resulted in the construction of eclectic mansions. El Vedado contains many beloved landmarks like the Hotel Nacional, Universidad de la Habana, El Principe and La Chorrera forts, Colón Cemetery, and the National Zoo. Significant works of mid-century modern architecture include the Parque de los Mártires Universitarios, designed by Mario Coyula, the Pabellón Cuba, designed by Juan Campos and Lorenzo Medrano, the Parque Deportivo Jose Martí, designed by Octavio Buigas, and many more. While Old Havana is known for its colonial architecture, El Vedado would become the heart of modern Havana, accessible to all socioeconomic groups. (read full text)
National Art Schools
Born out of the utopian political aspirations of the Cuban Revolution, the dramatic brick and terracotta National Art Schools capture a fleeting moment in the history of Latin American modernism. Founded in 1961, after a round of golf between Fidel Castro and Che Guevara on the course that would become the future site of the schools, the National Art Schools were designed to bring cultural literacy to Cuba in the heady days following the revolution. Castro chose Cuban modernist architect Ricardo Porro, along with Italians Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti, to design the schools, which were dedicated to modern dance, the plastic arts, the dramatic arts, music, and ballet. It was envisaged that students from other nations would be drawn to the schools by the ideal of learning in an environment that was meant to foster creativity in service to social improvement.
By 1965, Soviet-influenced members of Cuba’s Ministry of Building Works began to favor standardized, functionalist forms over the experimental and unconventional character of these buildings, leading to the eventual abandonment of the project. Of the five schools designed by the trio of architects, only two were completed. The buildings, largely abandoned, stood in near-ruin for years. (read full text)