In November 2016, 27 post-graduate students from ESALA travelled to Havana, Cuba as field work for their Master of Architecture design thesis. These students were following the island Territories v: Havana studio run by Adrian Hawker and Victoria Clare Bernie. In Havana they discovered an extraordinary shipwreck of a city, a Spanish Baroque urban landscape pitted and distressed in equal measure by the extremes of the Caribbean Climate and five decades of economic embargo.
During the course of their studies, these students have borne witness, through the final months of Obama, to the tentative emergence of Cuba from an imposed insularity. But they have also seen it falter with a new occupant in the White House. Since they travelled, the island’s great revolutionary hero, Fidel Castro has passed away and this coming year his brother, Raul, will retire from the presidency. In the context of this uncertain future, the students have been developing ambitious, visionary architectural proposals for Havana. Their work has drawn from the resilience, invention and cultural complexity of this unique city built from the coral of the Caribbean.
The Projected Room, the Animate Space and the Gnomon presents this ongoing work in the form of an exhibition in ECA’s new West Court. Through a series of highly detailed and beautifully crafted Drawings, Folios and Constructs a series of architectures emerge that are equally engaged with the complexities of this socio-political landscape and the strange narratives of magical realism.