Page C1.2 . 20 December 2000                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department



Modern Architecture in Cuba


The main emphasis of the guidebook lies in the architecture of the 1940s and 50s. The first examples of the International Style by architects such as Rafael de Cardenas, Max Borges Recio, and others were followed by regionalist movements.

Traditional elements such as patios, galleries, and porches, in combination with the purist language and the bare surfaces of Modernism, create a powerful language of cantilevering eaves. Such is seen in the architecture of Frank Martinez, where the houses seem to dissolve into airy structures embracing the exterior patio.

Another architect, Mario Romanach, one of many documented in the Havana Guide, was probably the one to most powerfully adapt modernist syntax into an individual language among the Cuban architects.

Author Rodriguez is currently working on a monograph to show the work of Romanach in a more complete manner. In the Font House, inverse roofs float over staggered cubes. In the Cueto House, the terrace and roof slab seem a test for bravery of seemingly weightless concrete.

Such dynamics deserve the appreciation and exposure which this publication might help them receive.

Sabine von Fischer is a freelance writer and architect living in New York.

The Havana Guide: Modern Architecture 1925-65, by Eduardo Luis Rodriguez, Princeton Architectural Press, 2000. 264 pages, illustrations: 14 color, 270 black and white photos and drawings. $24.95. Available at



ArchWeek Photo

In the Ana Carolina Font House (1956) by Mario Romanach, inverse roofs float over staggered cubes.
Photo: Servifoto

ArchWeek Photo

A stair in the House of Hilda Sarra, by Rafael de Cardenas, built in 1934, added to in 1941.
Photo: Princeton Architectural Press

ArchWeek Photo

House of Carlos Estrada by Frank Martinez, 1954.
Photo: Eduardo Luis Rodriguez

ArchWeek Photo

The Havana Guide: Modern Architecture 1925-65, by Eduardo Luis Rodriguez.
Image: Princeton Architectural Press


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