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Sustainable Building Renovation in the Tropics

Jun 17, 2019 – Jun 27, 2019
Havana, Cuba
Research Question
The Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez de la Naturaleza y el Hombre (FANJ), Cuba’s leading institute for research and education on environmental sciences and sustainability, has approached Columbia University for technical assistance in “greening” historic buildings undergoing preservation and renovation. This is a consequence of the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana’s offering FANJ a building in Old Havana to convert into an environmental studies center. The Office of the City Historian enjoys an international reputation for the enlightened stewardship of the architectural heritage of Havana and for deploying historic preservation as a tool for urban, economic, and social revitalization. The Historian’s office and it design and construction division have proven expertise in the traditional trades of building restoration and preservation but lack the technological expertise to utilize the most advanced strategies for environmental sustainability. For this reason, FANJ has reached out to Columbia University seeking collaboration on this significant building renovation project, with the objective of making the building restoration a showcase for maximally “green” building restoration.


This Summer Workshop offers GSAPP students the opportunity to participate in documentation and evaluation of this historic building, and a design charrette for its renovation, with a focus on the application of best practices of sustainability. In consultation with Columbia’s colleagues at FANJ and the City Historian’s Office, among others, to determine the needs of the project, the specific contributions of the GSAPP delegation may include:

  • Advanced surveying and documentation techniques (3D scanning, photogrammetry, etc.)
  • Production of 3D digital models and other visualization and design tools
  • Analysis of existing building materials and systems
  • Proposal and evaluation of specific technologies for optimal environmental sustainability
  • Production of graphic materials to explain, to non-specialists, the integration of advanced sustainability technologies in the building restoration

The final product of the GSAPP 2019 Summer Workshop will be a report, produced after the delegation’s return to New York, to include a summary of the week’s work, an evaluation of the building from an environmental point of view, and specific recommendations for appropriate sustainability technologies to be deployed in the building’s restoration.

During our week in Havana, workshop participants will also be immersed in the rich architectural heritage of Havana and the challenges of its conservation, as we divide our days between field work, studio time, and visits to significant architectural sites in and around Havana


Monday, June 17, 6:00 pm: Lecture on Cuban architectural history, in social and economic context, in two sections: 1) Colonial through the early Republican Period, 1503-1940, and 2) Modernism in Cuba, before and after the Revolution

Tuesday, June 18, 6:00 pm: Film screenings, TBD

Thursday, June 20 - Thursday June 27: TRAVEL

Other 2019 workshops

Urban Data: Parking in the Ala Moana Neighborhood and its Impact on Mobility
Honolulu, Hawaii
Aug 19, 2019 – Aug 30, 2019
Al Makassed, Beirut Islamic Society of Benevolent Intentions, A Patron of Modern Architecture
Beirut, Lebanon
Jul 16, 2019 – Aug 2, 2019
20 img 3810
FAST FORM/WORK : Casting a Sustainable Future
Zurich, Switzerland
Jun 30, 2019 – Jul 21, 2019
2019 Workshop - Rotterdam, The Netherlands
The Green Dip: Covering the City with a Forest
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Jul 5, 2019 – Jul 15, 2019
Hutson london su19 17
Circular Cities
London, UK
Jun 11, 2019 – Jun 16, 2019