Summer '16

Learning from Havana Summer School

Transdisciplinary Work-Lab for Architects, Engineers, Environmental and Social Scientists

Visiting Workshop

  • August 21 - September 1
  • Havana, Cuba
  • Urban-Think Tank, D-ARCH
    Prof. Alfredo Brillembourg & Prof. Hubert Klumpner
    Marie Grob

    Chair of Sociology, D-ARCH
    Prof. Christian Schmid
    Monika Streule

    Traffic Engineering Research Group, IVT, D-BAUG
    Dr. Mónica Menéndez
    Dr. Javier Ortigosa

    Faculty of Architecture, CUJAE, La Habana
    Prof. Jorge Peña Díaz
  • Partners: Grupo de investigación y acción urbanas (INVACURB), Facultad de Arquitectura; Plan Maestro de la oficina del historiador de la ciudad; y Dirección Provincial de Planificación Física La Habana.


This summer, ETH team join forces with Cuban students at the José Antonio Echeverría Higher Polytechnic Institute (CUAJE) to develop sustainable visions for the Historic Port of Havana, Cuba.

In the Cuban capital, you will analyse the current urban development and mobility potentials, using different sets of quantitative and qualitative tools. You will be challenged to work in an intensive cross-cultural setting, engaging in participatory urban design, and developing urban alternatives to influence real decision makers.


Havana is today, in many respects, a unique urban case study. As capital of a socialist country since 1959, the metropolis of Caribbean developed differently than similar cities in Latin America. Due to a rigorous national planning policy, the 19th century city has remained relatively small, with around 2 million inhabitants, generating simultaneously a strong attraction and problems. Since the dissolution of the Soviet bloc in the early 1990s Cuba faces severe economic difficulties, afflicting the lives of the citizens and the development possibilities of Havana at a large scale.

At this very moment, the political and economic situation is changing swiftly for Cuba, and urban transformations are increasingly visible on the streets of Havana. Experiencing a critical transition, the capital has to set new millstones for its future. Struggling between globalization, modernization, and local traditions, the city is confronted to conflicting directions. Will it learn from its specific experiences and develop its own creative urban solutions for a sustainable growth? Or will it replicate the usual pattern of rapid urban developments?


Our investigation will focus on the Historic Port of Havana, part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Symbols of the imagery of Havana, the Port is also the core of all shipping and industrial activities in Cuba. In a soon future however, those activities will be transferred to the brand-new Port of Mariel in the outskirt of the city, potentially freeing 4400 hectares at the center of the Old Havana. Anticipating uncontrolled urban development, we will analyses and explore what potentials and inclusive urban strategies can be envisioned for the Historic Port.

The summer school will build upon the existing Cuban-Swiss research program SeDUT and students will profit from the extensive expertise of the SeDUT partners, such as the INVACURB research group, the Provincial Physical Planning Office and other institutions.


More information about the SeDUT project: Chair of Sociology – SeDUT