Restoring Havana’s Architecture after Decades of Neglect

Photo by Geoffrey Baer.

Restoring Havana’s Architecture after Decades of Neglect

Havana’s streets are a catalog of architectural styles, from the Moorish and Spanish influences of the colonial era, to the neoclassicism popular in the nineteenth century, to the tall art deco, art nouveau and eclectic styles popular during Havana’s construction boom in the early twentieth century.

But several decades of neglect, combined with the corrosive effects of the sea air and humidity, have left many of exemplars of Cuban architecture dilapidated and dangerous.

In the video below, Geoffrey Baer takes a brief tour of Havana architecture with Cuban restoration architect Daniel de la Regata, and learns about the challenges de la Regata and his colleagues face in trying to preserve Havana’s buildings.

Habana Vieja, or Old Havana, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982, but restoration work was indefinitely put on hold during Cuba’s economic crisis, which followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But today, restoration work is in full swing. Many of Havana’s most treasured buildings are being restored to their former splendor. Government officials are prioritizing those areas most likely to attract tourists.

In the video below, de la Regata and Baer tour some of Havana’s most meticulously preserved structures and visit a craft school for restoration workers.