Out with the new, in with the old: architecture and nation

Olga Rodriguez-Falcon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article looks at Havana's architectural and urban peculiarities, focusing on those buildings that have defined its skyline from the beginning of the 1930s until now. They are also the buildings used in most of the city's promotional material, mainly in postcards and cinematographic productions, in order to function as signs of the city or its landmarks. The article analyses each case in relation to its political and cultural contexts, taking into account shifts in meanings brought about by political and social changes. It also addresses the divisions between the old colonial city and the new 'American city'. This division is put within the context of what was happening at the time in the whole of the American continent, including the United States, regarding the demolition of old cities and their replacement with buildings designed under the premises of the modern style in architecture. The 'romanticization' of the old city by Cuban intellectuals and the Cuban authorities, particularly after the 1959 Revolution, can be linked to similar tendencies in North America during the same period, expressed in the writings of North American authors, such as Lewis Mumford and Jane Jacobs, also discussed in this article. Overall, this article describes the role of Havana's architectural and urban peculiarities in the formation of Cuban national narratives, before and after the 1959 Revolution, with a re-reading of the concept of 'the Baroque' in the Latin American context as key to understanding these narratives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-456
Number of pages18
JournalHispanic Research Journal (Visual Arts Special Issue)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


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