La Habana, La Ciudad de las Columnas

B&L recently presented "Calling for a New Preservation Charter: A Declaration of Place" at INTBAU Cuba's conference, “Resilience and the Value of Heritage: Learning from Historic Cities” in the beautiful city of Havana.  Left speechless by this incredible city, we'll let Alejo Capentier speak to her beauty:


"In the beginning was the mason, but houses began to grow and large mansions completed the layout of plazas, and the column - no longer the conquistadors’ gallows - appeared in the city.  But it was an interior column, born elegantly in the shadowy patios, garnished with vegetation, where the trunk of the palm tree coexisted with the Doric shaft; consider the image of the haughty patio of the San Francisco monastery as an eloquent illustration.  At the outset, in houses with a solid layout (a bit rough in their exteriors), like the one in front of Havana’s cathedral, the column resembled an object of intimate refinement, destined to uphold the arcade of interior porticoes.  Except for the cathedral’s plaza, the Plaza Vieja where buildings devoted to the islands administration were erected, this was logical in a city whose streets were intentionally narrow; narrowness is a propitiator of shadows, where neither twilight nor dawn blinds the pedestrian with direct sunlight.  Thus, in many of Havana’s old palaces, in a few affluent mansions that have still preserved their original layout, the column is an element of interior decoration, luxury, and ornamentation.  This was before the nineteenth century, when the column moved to the street, thus creating - even in days of evident architectonic decadence - one of the most extraordinary constants of the Havana style: the incredible profusion of columns in a city that is an emporium of columns, a jungle of columns, and infinite colonnade, the last city to possess columns in such amazing excess, columns that, moreover, having abandoned original patios, began to retrace the column’s decadence through the ages."

- Alejo Carpentier, La ciudad De Las Columnas