Eth Teaching

Fall '16

Preserving the Future

October 22 - 30

Seminar Week

  • Kostenrahmen: F
  • Havana, Cuba
  • Urban-Think Tank Chair of Architecture and Urban Design
    Prof. Alfredo Brillembourg & Prof. Hubert Klumpner
    Danny Wills, Hans-Christian Rufer

    Chair of Sociology, D-ARCH, ETH
    Prof. Christian Schmid

    Faculty of Architecture, CUJAE, La Habana
    Prof. Jorge Peña Díaz


Students will travel to Havana, Cuba as an extension of the Urban-Think Tank Design Studio. This trip will serve as a critical study of the architecture, urbanism, culture, and social exchange in Havana with a specific focus on the recent and projected transformations of the city. The trip will aim to investigate how a city can be upgraded and modernized while maintaining its rich layers of history. It will observe, first hand, creative solutions from residents while engaging in larger debates about development in the face of urban change. City and architectural tours, museum visits, lectures and talks from local experts in architecture, urban planning and history will constitute the majority of the trip. The trip will be conducted in partnership with the Chair of Sociology (D-ARCH, ETH), and the Faculty of Architecture (CUJAE, La Habana), from which local Cuban students will also join.

Starting with the UNESCO World Heritage site, La Habana Vieja, in the East and moving West through neighborhoods like Centro Habana and Vedado, it is possible to understand Havana’s urban evolutions from a colonial trading port to a paradise of early Latin American modernism. However, Havana’s size and population have not considerably grown since 1959, while massive urban development can be observed in other Latin and Central American cities. The Cuban decentralization policy, resolutely applied after the revolution in 1959, favored medium-sized to small towns and rural regions, effectively leaving the urban development of Havana at a standstill. With the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1989, Havana’s urban fabric began to decay as the state lacked the necessary resources to carry out even the most basic maintenance work. Today, with the possibility of the U.S. blockade being lifted at any moment, Havana is faced with the challenge of upgrading its city to meet contemporary challenges while remaining true to its revolutionary ideals.
Enrollment in this seminar week is NOT required but is highly recommended for students in the PORT OF HAVANA Design Studio. The trip is open to max 20 students, but space is unlimited for students enrolled in the design studio. If enrollment is full online, please contact Danny Wills ( to sign up.

Each passenger traveling across any international boundary is solely responsible for obtaining all necessary travel documents, including any required visas, a valid passport and for complying with the laws of each country flown from (the departure country), through (any transit country) and into (the destination country). Neither the ETH Zurich nor the travel services provider nor the booking office can be charged for inconvenience and costs as a result of failure to obtain a visa.