Public Space in LOS SITIOS Centro Habana, Cuba

Students | Simon Betsalel, Alex DeWitt, Luis Diaz, Jiajia Dou, Robie Gomez, Michael Klunder, Carolyn Levine, Ariella Levitch, Yisha Su
Faculty | David Burney, Jill Hamberg, Ron Shiffman
School of Architecture, Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment

The Spring 2020 Havana Studio was a partnership between the Pratt Institute Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment (GCPE) and the José Antonio Echeverria Technological University of Habana (CUJAE). The primary focus was on the Centro Havana neighborhood of Los Sitios where our planning, placemaking, and design efforts aimed to build upon and expand student recommendations from prior years’ studios. This report provides recommendations on mobility and alternative transit systems, water management, waste management, and the use of vacant lots and plazas.

The rendering depicting the development of a plaza showcases various placemaking options at differing scales of open space that can energize public life and provide public services and healthy spaces. These options can be replicated as needed within Los Sitios, and can be achieved with existing or recycled materials and community input.
We propose to transform vacant lots into community gardens and improve the quality of the vacant lots used for parking by adding permeable surfaces and bioswales. Gardens can help meet the needs of residents, while providing further accessibility to healthy foods and green space. Image source: Pratt Institute Spring 2018 travel studio.
Proposed Complete Street designs for the arterial roads of Reina, Belascoaín, and Monte to provide equal space for both buses and cars. The redesign of these roads provides a designated bus lane in both directions allowing bus routes to move independently from vehicle lanes, improving efficiency and reliability
Stormwater management plan. Roads in green in are pedestrian, “water collector” roadways. Standard roadways in red form the boundaries of the superblocks, receiving no stormwater modifications. Collector roads in blue are “limited access” roadways, spanning the interior of the superblocks, slightly pitched to transport water out of the superblocks or into “wet” plazas and vacant lots.
Proposed Plaza rendering in plan with Quarterly Programing, bringing people to the neighborhood while remaining infrequent enough to provide adequate private time for residents. Programming would take place four times a year and could take the form of: music performances, parades, art fairs, chalk art exhibitions or similar contests
The Superblock model with plazas presents Los Sitios with a way to thoughtfully improve the pedestrian experience, while preparing for a future that may involve an increase in auto usage. To protect and improve Havana’s lively pedestrian life, the country must prioritize pedestrian, bicycle and public transit mobility.