Escuela de Ballet

Escuela de Ballet

The shell of the unfinished School of Ballet, Escuelas Nacional de Arte, Cuba.

Architect: Vittorio Garatti, 1961-65

The School of Ballet was commissioned to be built on a golf course in an upper-class district of Havana by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, a few years after the Cuban Revolution (1953-59). However, the building proved controversial and construction was halted when it was days from completion. Many reasons have been suggested for this: a reaction against utopian architecture as Soviet influences increased in Cuba; the refusal of key figures of the ballet establishment to dance in the new school; the inability of the building inspectors to sign off the school with its Catalan-style vaulting as structurally sound.

The building is currently a shell awaiting various redevelopment plans to come to fruition. Local rumour has it that when viewed from the air, it has the form of a naked woman (it does not). Workers from the nearby fields use the structure as a place to nap, defecate, and daub pornographic graffiti.

Final image: Vittorio Garatti’s image of the school when construction was almost complete.