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Slides and Some of the History of Building Las Arboledas

by Huck Rorick

Las Arboledas is a new town for 20,000 people, being built from scratch including housing, community facilities (schools, shopping, recreation) and infrastructure (sewage, water, roads).  The project introduced advanced ideas in energy & resource conservation combined with urban plans that are more responsive to the local social context.  It also seeks to produce a beautiful environment under conditions of severe economic constraint.

What follows are photos accompanied by a brief history of the project, some explanation of its design concepts and examples of completed buildings.

Construction began in 1988 and slowed to a snail's pace in 1990 with the economic crisis created by the breakup of the Soviet Union.   565 units were finished or under construction as of 1998 completing several neighborhoods.  A total of 5000 units are planned.

Photos:  Please click on the thumbnails for a larger image.  Use your "Back" button to return to the text.

1. Energy Seminar, Havana

The project had its beginnings in a series of educational exchanges started in 1979.   

2. Marlo Martin, Solar Cooling specialist, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
Some of the story of how the project developed follows.

Some of the project architects: Maria Elena, Marilys & Segui.

Since the people are the heart of any community, I wanted to first show you a few Cuban faces and places, people who worked with us on Las Arboledas and people on the street.   At left are some of the project architects: Maria Elena, Marilys & Segui.

Plaza de la Revolución

Here we attended a speech by Fidel in Plaza de la Revolución, a Plaza that really only exists when it is full of people.

5. Project manager.

Chelin, lead architect from Empresa VI, the architectural design enterprise assigned to the project.

Board games at Las Arboledas.

Kids playing board game in front of apartments at Las Arboledas.


Bicycles became an important form of transport after the collapse of the Soviet Union cut Cuba's oil supply in half.


Cooking at the construction site.

. Tropicana.

For North Americans raised during the cold war Cuba may not fit our image of the "cold face of communism".

Project engineers.

Our road engineer, hydraulic engineer, 3 architects, myself & others.  Women have a strong role in construction, architecture and planning.


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