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2008 Charrette


9 - 15 MARCH 2008

International architects and planners are invited to join Cuban experts and local communities for a one week
Charrette 9 - 15 March 2008 to develop ideas for the development of the waterfront sector of the Old Havana Harbor, and for Casablanca, a small marine town across from Old Havana with 5,000 inhabitants, founded in 1780.

Who is it for: Architects, planners, art historians, antiquarians, writers, students and others with an interest in the history of Cuban architecture, urbanism and culture.

Above: Old city center of Havana. Photo: Claus Zapffe



1.1 Elaborate ideas for the development of the waterfront sector of both The Harbor and Casablanca.

1.2 Promote and highlight the importance of the harbor for the new image of Havana and for social and cultural integration.

1.3 Evaluate the benefits of the transformation of the Harbor for the future of Havana in economical and urban terms.

1.4 Improve the quality of life of the inhabitants of Casablanca, preserving its Mediterranean image and getting advantage of its privilege site.

1.5 Propose the increase of urban open space, housing  and commerce in the area and its impact at city level.

1.6 Turn the current industrial character of the  harbor into a sport and recreation one..

7 Reshape the urban landscape of an area currently dilapidated and lacking character and identity increasing the green areas.

1.8 Reinforce the cultural identity of the City of  Havana.

1.9 Propose the sanitation of the bay as a necessary condition and departure point to achieve from an ecological perspective.


Day 1 Sunday March 9th. Afternoon
Public Meeting. Welcome and Introduction by Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler Director of the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana or one of his team members followed by a buffet and drinks (mojitos).

Day 2 Monday March 10th Morning.
Work Session. Tour of the harbor site and lecture about the city, its history and evolution by Arch.Orestes del Castillo. Office of the Historian of the City of Havana. Lunch at La Divina Pastora Restaurant by one of the most important fortresses on the bay. Afternoon Session.
2.30- 5.30 p.m. Studio work

Day 3 Tuesday March 11th . Morning 9.30 a. m.
Public meeting and pin ups of the first ideas. Several speakers. Coordinator Prof. Arch. Julio César Pérez. / Prof. Arch. Jorge Peña
11.30 a. m. Coffee break and refreshments
1.30- 2.30 p.m. Lunch
Afternoon session
2.30- 5.30 p.m  Studio work

Day 4 Wednesday March 12th. Morning. 9.30 a. m.
Studio work of The Harbor and of Casablanca. (Depending on the amount of people we can think of 2 groups)
11.30 a. m. Coffee break and refreshments
1.30- 2.30 p.m. Lunch
Afternoon session
2.30- 5.30 p.m  Studio work

Day 5 Thursday March 13th. Morning. 9.30 a.m.
Studio work of The Harbor and of Casablanca.
11.30 a. m. Coffee break and refreshments
1.30- 2.30 p.m. Lunch
Afternoon session.
2.30- 5.30 p.m  Studio work
5.30 p.m  Public presentation and Discussion of First

Day 6 Friday March 14th. Morning. 9.30 a.m.
Studio work of The Harbor and of Casablanca
11.30 a. m. Coffee break and refreshments
1.30- 2.30 p.m. Lunch
Afternoon session.
2.30- 5.30 p.m  Studio work

Day 7 Saturday March 15th. Morning. 9.30 a.m.
Design work of Final Proposals for The Harbor and of Casablanca
11.30 a. m. Coffee break and refreshments
1.30- 2.30 p.m. Lunch
Afternoon session.
2.30- 5.30 p.m  Public Presentation and Conclusions
Evening: Cuban Party

The Royal Norwegian Embassy will invite all Charrette participants to an evening reception during the Charrette (date to be determined).

We are working to arrange an evening reception during the Charrette.


A charrette is an intensive planning session where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development. It provides a forum for ideas and offers the unique advantage of giving immediate feedback to the designers. More importantly, it allows everyone who participates to be a mutual author of the plan.

Read more about it at The Town Paper and Wikipedia


The Charrette workshop can be participated at free of charge, there is no registration fee for the Charrette.

The participants will have to organize their travel to and from Cuba, and cover accomodation and meals individually. We can arrange accomodation for 55 USD per night on request. This price is per room, single or double occupancy.

For registration for the charrette, or if you have any more questions, please e-mail Claus Zapffe.

Preceding the charrette, we arrange a tour around Cuba. You are welcome to join either the tour or the charrette, or both. For a detailed programme and more information on the tour please click here: 2008 Tour programme.


You will need a visa for visiting Cuba, please contact your local Cuban embassy. A tourist visa should be the simplest one to obtain. Your address on Cuba will 21 O Street, Vedado, Havana.


We have had American participants on both our tour and workshop in 2007. But due to the American trade embargo, American citizens wanting to travel to Cuba will need to travel under either a general or a specific license. Please see the following website at the United States Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control. Each participant is for himself responsible to decide whether the conditions of the general license applies to him, as the penalties for breaking the embargo are quite serious. Please e-mail Claus Zapffe or contact the travel agent below if you are in doubt.

A travel agent that was recommended by one of our previous American participants: Ines Travel, 4470 SW Hall Blvd # B, Beaverton - (503) 641-8708 (on vacation 19. Dec. - 7. Jan.).


The tour is organised by C.E.U. Norway - Council of European Urbanism, in collaboration with the Norwegian Association for Adult Learning (Folkeuniversitetet Fjellregionen). We have a strong history of organising similar events in other countries, including Norway, Germany, the UK, Romania and Italy.

Prof. Julio César Pérez Hernández   CV
Loeb Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Design 2001-2002 and adjunct professor at the School of Architecture in Havana, has lectured widely in the US and Europe about Cuban architecture. He is a member of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba and the recipient of several international and national awards. His writings have been published in the New York Times, Arquitectura Cuba and Arquitectura y Urbanismo.

Julio Cesar Perez is the author of a major new book on Cuban architecture and culture, "Inside Cuba", published by Taschen. Link to the publisher`s web site:

Audun Engh  
Oslo, Norway. Education in law, project manager for the Norwegian Foundation for Urban Renewal, an INTBAU (Internationl Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism) partner organization. Member of the INTBAU Management Committee. Board member of CEU - Council for European Urbanism. Management Group Member of ESUA - European School for Urbanism and Architecture.

M.Arch. Claus Zapffe   CV
Oslo, Norway. Consulting architect with own practice, Moderno AS. Management Group Member of ESUA - European School for Urbanism and Architecture. Board member of INTBAU Scandinavia.

Above: Casablanca with Havana in the background. Photo: Julio Cesar Perez.

Read about our first Charrette in Havana in 2007:

2007 Charrette Report (PDF document)

2007 Charrette Results (external website made by John Philling)

2007 Charrette Programme

Article in Aftenposten (Norw.) about the 2007 Charrette

Read the Declaration of Havana from a previous workshop.


Cuba is the biggest island in the Caribbean with 114, 525 Km2 and its current population is 11, 224, 321 inhabitants. Its strategic location regarding the Gulf of Mexico and the Strait of Florida marked important commercial routes since the arrival of the Europeans to America in 1492 while its tropical climate and the beauty of its beaches make it an important destination for tourists nowadays.

Havana is the Capital of Cuba and it was founded by its protected harbor in 1519 whose key geographic position for the Spanish fleets granted the city great prominence by the XVI century. Partially surrounded by a chain of stone fortresses that were built to defend the city, the harbor has an enormous potential for its future economic and urban transformation as part of the waterfront redevelopment strategy to increase public space, housing, recreation and commerce. Its current population is around 2.5 million people. There are different towns and neighborhoods - like Regla, Guanabacoa and Casablanca - around the harbor.

Casablanca, founded in 1780, is a small marine town across from Old Havana with 5,000 inhabitants. It is crowned by the biggest fortress built by Spain in America from 1763 to 1774. The town is located on a hill where the bay becomes wider so it offers  magnificent 
views to the bay and Old Havana and the Malecón- the seaside promenade in the background. Its urban pattern is very simple and mostly developed along a main axis- Calle Artés- parallel to the water and then, terraces that deal with the slope of the site to accommodate other streets and the buildings. The European influenced vernacular architecture is rather simple and most of the buildings are one story high row houses either with flat or pitched roofs. Porches, high ceilings, stucco walls and courtyards are among its main features. Infrastructure is in an acceptable condition- the town has a stable water supply, electricity, sewage and telephone network- though it should be improved. It has a train- the 1916 Hershey electrical train, the only one in Havana and the oldest of its kind still working in the world- and a boat service for transportation across the harbor.

The 28 meters high Jesus Christ of Havana- a 1958 white Carrara marble sculpture by woman artist Jilma Madera- is one of the landmarks together with the National Weather Center and its dome and the Fortress of La Cabaña, where the International Book Fair is held every year.

Providing the enormous success of restoration in Old Havana- declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982- Casablanca- under the authority of the Historian of the City of Havana- could enjoy the benefits of restoration with a sustainable approach.

Casablanca offers an opportunity to develop a project for improving the quality of life of its inhabitants and a challenge to reshape the neighborhood getting advantage of its privilege location overlooking the  bay and Old Havana.


Read more about Havana on Wikipedia



Dr. Professor Architect Orestes del Castillo- ONG Old Havana

Professor, Architect and Urban Planner Julio César
Pérez- Member of UNEAC/ Author of A Master Plan for Havana

Professor, Architect and Urban Planner Esteban Martínez, Member of UNEAC

Architect Juan Carlos Toledo, National Physical Planning Institute

Architect Alexis de la Cruz, EPROB


Above: Old city center of Havana. Photo: Claus Zapffe


Cuban supporting organizations:

C.E.U. Cuban Chapter - Council for European Urbanism

Office of the Historian of the City of Havana

UNEAC (National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba) Design and Environmental design Section

UNAICC (National Union of Architects and Engineers of Cuba)

Group for Integral Development of the City of Havana

National Physical Planning Institute

Faculty of Architecture of Havana/ CUJAE

(MINVEC) Ministry for Investment and Economic Collaboration

Government of Casablanca

International supporting organisations:

C.E.U. Norwegian Chapter - Council for European Urbanism

ESUA - European School of Urbanism and Architecture

Moderno AS - architecture and design

INTBAU Scandinavia - International Network for Building, Architecture and Urbanism

Folkeuniversitetet Fjellregionen - Norwegian Association for Adult Learning

Stiftelsen Byens Fornyelse - Foundation for Urban Renewal

Royal Norwegian Embassy on Cuba

Workshop Site:

For a full map of Havana, click here

The tour and charrette are private initiatives offering friends and collegues an academic programme on Cuba. We are not a tour operator. Each participant has to arrange for his / her own travel to Cuba, travels on his / her own risk, and is advised to arrange his / her own insurances.

U.S. participants:
The C.E.U. Tour and C.E.U. Charrette in Cuba are professional meetings / conferences, and are intended only for full-time professionals whose travel transactions are directly related to attendance at the Tour and Charrette. The Tour and Charrette are organized by C.E.U. Norway, an international professional organization that regularly sponsors such meetings or conferences in other countries. Neither C.E.U. Norway nor the international C.E.U. network is headquartered in the United States, nor are any of the institutions, associations or organisations associated with the Tour and the Charrette. The purpose of the Tour and the Charrette is not the promotion of tourism in Cuba nor other commercial activities involving Cuba, nor to foster production of any bio-technological products.

Last updated 19th December 2007, 13:04