Cuban scholar Mario Coyula visits Rutgers, presents on Cuban architecture

November 4, 2011

Dr. Mario Coyula Cowley, a Cuban architect and urban planner, hosted a presentation at Rutgers–Camden on the architectural history and future of Havana Cuba.

Dr. Coyula is an internationally-renowned architect, architectural historian and professor and is currently a visiting scholar at Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.

Dr. Coyula is the co-author of two award-winning monuments that have become landmarks in Havana: 
the Monument Park of the University, and the Pantheon of the Heroes of March 13. For his work, Dr. Coyula received the 2001 National Award of Architecture and the 2004 National Habitat Award and also served as the first president of Havana’s Landmarks Commission.

Click below to read work by Dr. Coyula.

POWERPOINT: “La Habana: Colonia, Republica y Revolucion”
A virtual tour through the streets and history of Havana, Cuba beginning with a colonial 1776 map of the city and tracing major architectural highlights (and low-lights) up to the modern 2000’s.

PAPER: “The Taking of the Great White City”
Abstract: Against conventional wisdom, Havana never was a Caribbean city --but is increasingly becoming one. The official city, the one most visitors get to see, had strong European, American and even some Russian influence. It was a city that wished to be white, identifying whiteness as a way to move upward and become cosmopolitan. These trends and expectations were reflected in architecture and public spaces, whose looks and functions have changed after the former upper classes were wiped away by the 1959 revolution.

PAPER: “1958: Architecture, sex and revolution”
Part of a larger project in which Cuban scholars were each assigned a calendar year and tasked with writing a summary of national developments. Dr. Coyula writes about the year 1958, the last year of Fulgencia Batista’s time in power.

PAPER: “What can be learned from Havana’s Modern Heritage”
Excerpt: “Cuba has an important 20th century built stock that amounts for most of the urban fabric in its cities. The massive urban growth from the end of the 1940s through the whole 1950s consolidated the architecture of the Modern Movement after a delayed arrival. Modern architecture in Havana showed how original iconoclastic imported design principles could be adapted to a different context while keeping the basic grid, regulations and scale, contributing to diversity. Good quality Modern architecture in Cuba extended well into late 1960s, with structural expressionism and brutalism.”

PAPER: “Havana in its architecture”
A detailed overview of the city of Havana, Cuba and its major architectural achievements and with historical and contemporary developments.