Familiar Primitives

Throughout history, primitives have been used as an expression of monumentality, religiousness or even utopian dreams. This project uses platonic shapes and operations among them to generate complex spatial systems that retain a high level of formal legibility and clarity. Primitives carry an intrinsic value and formal expectancy that can be used to capture its users. Since childhood we have been playing with this basic shapes creating a predisposition to them, we have experienced them, and we know what to expect. Bringing back primitives, we can trigger a level of recognition to which most people can relate to, and establish the foundation for the language of contemporary formalism that can be achieved with current techniques. With the use of digital tools, primitives could offer the foundation for this an emerging system which can evolve with its complexity, retaining it’s familiarity to a broader audience. This thesis wants to activate familiarity in  a system that can be traced back to its primal shapes, retaining a level of intimacy and expectancy to be understood at its core.“Buildings become a stage moving forward and backward in time”. “It assumes the world can change, can become something is not” — Moss, The Havana Project.

Cuba has been a country in constant search of its own identity since they first became a Spanish colony. In this search they found their identity in music through a mixture of American, African and French influences, in religion, they found it by adapting Catholicism and African beliefs, and in art and literature they were able to express their own ideas and positions,…but not in architecture. 

The architecture of the country has seen many styles from colonial to modern to regionalism, but none of them express their unique culture, their struggles, and views. In the early 1960’s before the Soviet Union was fully established in Cuba, the government commissioned a design and construction campaign in search for their architectural character, resulting in art schools and isolated houses which were then forgotten as they did not fit the later views of the government.This project reexamines the issue of identity as it questions and searches for its character, for its place, its context……El Malecon.

If the current state of the city is not perceived as old, how to embrace it? The city is decaying; it is deteriorating and collapsing, it wears its scars. This notion gave rise to a project which embraces its condition; it searches to relate to what people in Havana are familiar with and understand as architecture, to move back and forth between the old, the decayed and the new. The primal, the familiar and the shapes they can relate to.