Under One Umbrella: Historic Preservation in Havana, Cuba as the Link between Social Services and Economics
1 online resource (110 pages) : PDF
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Traditionally, historic preservation focuses on the past, but a major challenge of historic preservation is working with buildings that are still in use. If a building continues to be used, it will continue to evolve. Thus, current daily life and the preservation of history are somewhat in competition. In Havana, Cuba, however, those two priorities actually support instead of compete with one another. Through integrating the preservation of social infrastructure and the preservation of the built environment, Havana’s Office of the City Historian (OCH) preserves the community including both people and place. The practice of preserving community is not historic preservation as it is commonly understood. The OCH accomplishes this integration in part by tying the delivery of necessary social services to preservation projects. Rehabilitation of historic buildings fosters cultural productions, houses medical services, provides job-training, and supports other social services in Old Havana. Neither social services nor preservation are financially self-supporting, but through generating and reinvesting tourism revenues into these two programs, the OCH has created a network of projects that support and depend on one another. The tripartite system of preservation, social services and tourism can continue over time, growing as revenues grow. This research seeks to elucidate the strengths and limitations of the OCH’s historic preservation methodology. The autonomy of the OCH from the central government and the OCH’s close management of the historic district have been essential to its success. However, despite its achievements, the majority of the buildings and the residents of Old Havana have not been addressed. As of 2004, after roughly twenty-five years of work, two thirds of the buildings in Old Havana were still not rehabilitated and the decay is visible. As a result, living conditions of many residents are unsafe and unhealthy. In order to address the remaining needs of the historic zone during the lifetimes of the current residents, additional strategies should be employed. Potentially unpredictable social, political and financial impacts on Old Havana that result from increased exchange between the United States and Cuba could be better managed through an understanding of the strengths and shortcomings of the OCH’s work. Through on site interviews, tours, self-directed exploration of the Havana as well as primary and secondary source reading, this research builds a foundation from which a new analysis can be made of the historic preservation program in Havana. Analytical drawings that recreate case study preservation projects and diagram the forces at work in Old Havana assist in supporting the results of the analysis. This exploration suggests that the OCH’s prioritization of both social services and the built environment in Old Havana has contributed to positive outcomes for the residents and the buildings, but that a long-term solution to the current social and infrastructural problems of Old Havana must include additional decentralized elements that empower the population to maintain their own homes, foster additional non-state owned businesses and organizations that serve tourists and locals.
CUBAHAVANAHERITAGEHISTORIC PRESERVATIONOFFICE OF THE CITY HISTORIANSOCIAL SERVICES
Davis, Charlesde la Torre Cueva, Oscar
Thesis (M.Arch.)--University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2015.
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