Havana faces a series of urban planning choices triggered by the opening of Cuba's economy that will irrevocably impact the city’s built environment, infrastructure, and livability. The inclusion of El Vedado neighborhood on the 2016 World Monuments Watch highlighted the challenges and opportunities facing Havana. Home to some of the best examples of early and mid-twentieth century architecture and urban planning in Cuba, El Vedado includes an unusually rich array of high-quality buildings in the neoclassical, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco styles, along with noteworthy modern buildings. Placing the neighborhood on the Watch reflected a growing concern about expanding development pressures and insufficient local zoning and landmark regulations. To build on the important visibility generated by the Watch and to help Havana find a way forward, WMF and Friends of Havana organized a forum, Hablemos De La Habana (Let’s Talk about Havana), with support from the Ford Foundation and Tauck Ritzau Innovative Philanthropy.
A collaborative discussion about Havana’s future
International experts gathered in Havana in February 2017 with local planners, policymakers and preservation professionals to begin a collaborative process intended to guide Havana’s future. Discussions focused on six central themes: Culture and Economic Activities, Urban Planning and Land Management, Transportation and Infrastructure, Architecture, Housing and Public Space, Historic Preservation, and Community Development.
The overarching goal of the workshop was to arrive at a set of next steps—future collaborations, studies, workshops, possible pilot projects—that will help address the key issues the city now faces. The conference proceedings on Havana’s future development will be published in late 2018 and distributed to key agencies and decision-makers in Havana. The outcomes also will serve as a foundation for a multi-year collaboration in Havana between World Monuments Fund and local partners.