From Feb. 16-21, Cuban Architect Hermes Mallea will take members of the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation Architects & Designers Circle on a tour of the architectural wonders of Cuba as part of the tour, Havana: An Insider’s View of Architecture and the Arts.
Mallea is the author of the recent book The Great Houses of Havana, A Century of Cuban Style, an AIA member and a partner in the New York City based firm M(Group) with Carey Maloney. He will add his insight and expertise to the tour.
Here’s a look at the trip’s itinerary:
On the first day, trip goers will attend an introductory lecture by Mallea based on his book to give an understanding of Havana family life from 1860 to 1960, providing insight into how fashionable neighbors shifted and housing types evolved. Then everyone is invited to a cocktail reception on the hotel’s rooftop and a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
The second day begins with a lecture by an architectural historian and a morning walking tour of Old Havana, focusing on the four main squares: the Plaza de Armas, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Plaza de la Catedral. The afternoon visits are arranged for the homes and studios of some of Havana’s leading artists, where there may be an opportunity to purchase their art. The early evening offers a private after-hours tour and reception at the Ceramics Museum, followed by dinner at a paladar—a restaurant in a private home that operates with the special permission of the Cuban government.
The next day, guests start the morning with a lecture on contemporary Cuban reality providing insight into life and living on the island. Mallea will lead a special tour of mid 20th century architecture, highlighting achievements before and after the revolution. Lunch will be served on the terrace of the Nacional Hotel, which was originally designed by McKim Mead and White and opened in 1930.
In the afternoon, guests will visit the complex of the National Arts Schools and specifically ISA, Instituto Superior de Arte, and join a professor for a guided visit through the studios and work spaces of Cuba’s leading art school—and a chance to view the students’ artwork. The complex of five schools was designed by Vittorio Garatti, Roberto Gottardi (Italians) and Ricardo Porro (Cuban) on the former private country club golf course in western suburb of Cubanacan.
A late afternoon visit to the residence of the Swiss Ambassador, a home completed in 1958 as designed by Richard Neutra and gardens by Roberto Burle Marx, will conclude the day.
The morning of the 19th starts with a tour of the National Museum of Fine Arts, followed by lunch in a local private restaurant and a drive out of the city to see real Cuban street life. The group will head southwards from the city to the small, hilltop town of San Francisco de Paula for a visit to Finca La Vigía (Lookout Farm), the house where Ernest Hemingway lived for 20 years. On the grounds, visitors can see Hemingway’s famous fishing boat, Pilar, and climb the tower to his study. The afternoon will conclude with a brief visit to the village of Cojímar, the setting for “The Old Man and the Sea.”
That evening, guests will hear two special presentations at the Ludwig Foundation for the Arts. The Ludwig Foundation Director will host a cocktail reception and buffet dinner on the penthouse terrace—and guests will have a chance to discuss the arts with invited local artists and guests.
On the last day, guests will attend an informal morning rehearsal of the Contemporary Dance Company of Cuba at the Teatro Nacional, adjacent to the Plaza de la Revolución, then continue on to the Museum of Decorative Arts to view an extraordinary collection now housed in a former mansion in the Vedado district—the house was completed in 1927 in the neo-classical style. A private concert and farewell dinner conclude the trip.
The trip departs from Miami, FL on Saturday, Feb. 16, returning on Thursday, Feb. 21. For more information on this tour and to find out how you can register, click here .
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