Ricardo Porro

École de Danse moderne, La Havane, Cuba, 1962-1964

Fidel Castro commissioned Ricardo Porro to design the School of Modern Dance and the School of Visual Arts in the early 1960s for Cuba’s capital city. Each school is structured like a small city beside a forest where students can stroll. From the outside, the buildings resemble sculptures. Inside covered walkways, squares, patios and galleries organize the spaces into an organic network. The guiding idea for the placement of the buildings is one of explosion, of revolution, radiating outward from the main performance hall standing at the center of the project. The dancer’s movement acts as the centrifugal force organizing the entire space. The circular form of the performance hall topped by a panoramic vantage point and located at the end of the square, expresses dynamism and mobility. The undulating corridors, the breast-shaped cupolas and the fountain are all round in form, in an erotic evocation of a woman’s body. To overcome shortages of concrete, steel and construction machinery in Cuba, Ricardo Porro called upon the know-how of Catalan craftsmen in brick construction techniques to develop a genuine exercise in style in the use of this material: arcades, cupolas, ungainly vaults, inclined vaults, Portuguese vaults, colonnades, etc. These buildings are a savant blend of humble materials, local architectural tradition, baroque spirit and lyrical grandeur (the projects were designed during the Cuban revolutionary period): “I felt the need to express the emotional explosion of the entire Cuban people, which was particularly perceptible at the time.” (Ricardo Porro)

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