AD Classics: The National Art Schools of Cuba / Ricardo Porro, Vittorio Garatti, Roberto Gottardi

School of Ballet by . Image © Adrián Guerra Rey via places.designobserver.com

will count as having the most beautiful academy of arts in the world.” – Fidel Castro (1961)

The Cuban National Schools of Arts, originally imagined by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in 1961, are perhaps the largest architectural achievements of the Cuban Revolution. The innovative design of the schools, which aimed to bring cultural literacy to the nation, encapsulated the radical, utopian vision of the Revolution. Unfortunately, the nation’s idealistic enthusiasm lasted for a fleeting moment in time and the Schools quickly fell out of favor; they were left to decay before even being completed. Today, following nearly four decades of neglect, the architects have returned to try and bring these derelict schools to back to their intended glory.

“Unfinished Spaces” Portrays Vindicated Architects of Cuba’s Forgotten Art Schools

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“Unfinished Spaces” is a critically acclaimed documentary about the ambitious design and construction of the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte, or National Art School in , Cuba in 1961, which was to feature schools of ballet, modern dance, music, drama and plastic arts. The university was the brain child of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara who wanted to establish a prestigious, cutting-edge arts university for the people of Cuba. The project was abandoned due to cut funding and ideological differences, but the three architects responsible for the design, Ricardo Porro, Vittorio Garatti and , were still excited when in March 1999 they were called to lay out a budget to preserve the languished schools.

Read on for more on the history of the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte and images of the campus.