Jean Nouvel: “Havana has a personality”

In his visit to Cuba, the French architect Jean Nouvel spoke to students and colleagues at the Cuban Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) headquarters

During the meeting, Nouvel said the role of architecture in the twenty-first century must be to transform. “You cannot add more things, what you have to do is change them, mutate them”.

“I have lived a degradation of the role of the architect. At first when he designed a building, he had a responsibility. He chose the members of his team, the programs, the best options, his organization, made ​​the decisions on how to run the project, it was he who made ​​the plans from start to finish, it was he who consulted the company and it was he who posed the query modes and when companies were called by customers, it was he who did the analysis of prices and who proposed to customers the adequate enterprises.

Today in France the architect does not know the price of the work, he is intended to be responsible but in fact he is not. The result is a company with a growing disqualification. There is no bidding conditions, there are two or three companies that have control, reach agreements between them, and no price controls. However, the architect is faced with a situation that must be solved without any power. In short, the architects are asked to make a difference in the facade, but they already decided in advance what they are going to do.

The role of the architect is to witness his generation, what he likes to do with that generation and do it with depth. Architects should be entitled to decide on urban planning, because it is a process that includes this and other disciplines, but also art, and plastic, and how sustainable will be because a city cannot grow and expand indefinitely. And we must do it passionately, because to start something, you have to have a passion. “

Referring to Havana, he said: “Havana is a city that is not” contaminated “by the trends of playing the same solutions, large buildings, repetition of certain colors, which themselves are very visible in other cities. Regardless of economic conditions in Cuba, the passage of time is part of the architecture of this country, where the colors take on a much stronger importance.

“To modernize Havana-he said-it has to mutate, change and grow. It has to stand the architect’s work, what he likes to witness through several generations, in order to achieve cultural sedimentation to reinterpret construction methods. It has to start from the culture if you will look to modernize the city, this is the way. “

Jean Nouvel is recognized internationally for its monumental architectural works among which the Palais de Justice in Nantes in France, the Agbar Tower in Barcelona, the Arab World Institute in Paris and the extension of the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain.

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