In the spring of 2016, Design as Politics and The International New Town Institute took a group of TU Delft Master students to Cuba in order to explore Alamar, a new town just east of Havana. Based on our research and on-site experiences, we have developed a travel guide for this mostly undiscovered New Town.
Alamar is one of those New Towns which look remarkably familiar at first glance. An abundance of standardized walk-up flats, modernist social housing off 5-6 storeys of a similar kind that Western European New Towns excelled in during the 50s and 60s. Organized in neighborhood units, each with their set of shops, schools and services. A lot of open, green spaces in between and ample provision for cars and traffic.
But no matter how familiar this cityscape looks: this is Cuba and everything is different from what it looks like. To start with: this New Town was not built in the 50s but in the 70s, in a quite extraordinary way, completely different than its European family members. Even if they share the same DNA, Alamar is not only shaped by the modernist canon of postwar new towns, but just as much by the revolutionary ethos of Cuba after the triumph of the revolution in 1959 and it even bears the marks of the pre-revolutionary period under the regime of President Fulgencio Batista. At second glance, this peculiar mix makes up the unique character of Alamar, New Town ‘at the sea’.
This publication is part of a series of Alternative Travel Guides initiated by the International New Town Institute. Other issues have been made for Milton Keynes (UK), Cergy Pontoise (France) and Nowa Huta (Poland)