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Brick, block and stucco were used with sensitivity.

Using materials that were common in the old standard buildings they came up with pleasingly different results.

90. New concept next to old.
The first phase of Las Arboledas was built next to some of the existing standard buildings.  Although the new buildings were derived in significant part from the old, the differences were striking. 

91. Remodeling old.
However, it didn't seem fair for people next door to have much nicer places, something the Cuban society is quite sensitive to.  The Cuban culture is so concerned with equality (everyone having an equally good life) that it could at times be a hindrance to doing something better.  Several times when we showed plans for beautiful new buildings, we were asked, "But what about all the other people?"  

 It was therefore quite natural that we would undertake to improve the existing buildings as well.  Since the new ones were derived from the old, some of the changes could be made without great difficulty.  In this case we broke open the balconies on the ground floor and created patios and gardens for the ground floor apartments.  

The result was good for the families with ground floor apartment and good for the neighborhood as well.  Since they had a personal stake in them, people put energy into the gardens for these spaces.   In turn, these were the entrances to everybody's home so they were appreciated by everyone.  In that way the people who had these apartments became gardeners for the whole community.

At the beginning and end of each visit and at the end of each phase of construction, we met with all the construction workers, architects, planners and some of the future occupants.

There is a cost to this and the construction superintendent (jefe de obra) was concerned that everyone was taking time off from building.  However, the meetings proved productive.

We discussed how work had been going.  Concerns about the designs, progress, etc.  Sometimes there were sharp exchanges between workers, occupants and architects.  Many things were changed and developed in these meetings.  The result was much improved designs, higher levels of satisfaction, high morale and lots of creative energy from everyone.

 Las Arboledas is an ongoing process...

 To be continued...


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