Under Construction: Infraestudio and the new Cuban Architecture
Infraestudio is an architecture and art practice based in Havana that has been obsessed with fiction since its foundation in 2016. Fernando Martirena, Anadis González, and other members and collaborators work from a narrative and discursive approach to experiment with various resources such as buildings, research, exhibitions, writings, and activism. This has allowed them to operate discreetly in a city frozen in time, recounting how contemporary architecture is done in Cuba today.
For these reasons, Infraestudio was selected by ArchDaily as one of the best new architectural practices of 2023. They are concerned with creating architecture that blends into the landscape, showcasing emptiness as a representation of an idea, focusing not on forms but on strategies, and building with the bare essentials.
Below, we bring you a glimpse of four construction projects by Infraestudio, told in their own words.
Center for Contemporary Art Línea 508
The commission was carried out in one of the first houses in Vedado, Havana, dating back to 1888 and holding the highest degree of protection as a Monument.
Almost intact since its creation, it needed an additional 200 m2 of program that seemed impossible to fit in a house that felt complete.
Inside, we replaced the original roof with a reinforced concrete one and tried not to make many other changes.
When commissioned to rehabilitate a penthouse with a pool in Vedado, we decided to only intervene in its exterior area. We believed that the modernity of the interiors and the fantastic view were two given solutions, but the exterior interstitial space that connects them caught our attention.
Changing the contours of the patio by adding new planters and using a single material on all surfaces transformed this interior-exterior space into a red garden.
The balconies, the pool, and the patio, located on three different levels but connected by stairs, create a unique typology of high-rise apartment with abundant outdoor space. Inside, the renovation actions would be minimal.
To the east of Havana, in the “Bosque de Cojimar,” on a hillside with views of the sea, this single-family house is being constructed.
Two natural stones that approach the point of sensuality in a kiss, illustrated in the sculpture “Beso” (2012) by Wilfredo Prieto, and the sensation of a natural and stony experience similar to a cave, inspired the shape of this house.
Faced with a lack of houses and an abundance of nature, we thought of creating an inanimate object similar to a stone, resting on the grass. It has no entrance door from the street, but an opening through which you enter the patio.
Next to the beach, we were commissioned to design a weekend house of around 60m2. Since a much larger house was already under construction next to it, we decided to build a house hidden in the garden.
A stone wall without windows, built of the same material as the walls separating it from the neighboring house, defines this house at first glance.
The result was a house with 2 curved facades, one made of stone and the other of glass, meeting at the corners. When you enter the lot, you don’t see the house, but a wall in the garden, and once inside, you discover the elements that make this curved journey a home.