The Havana Harbour Charrette took place between March 4th and March 10th, 2007 in Old Havana, Cuba with the participation of people from Canada, Cuba, Europe and United States of America. 

     In the evening of March 4th The Havana Harbour Charrette was introduced by Audun Engh, board member of  of C.E.U. - Council for European Urbanism -  and started with a reception at the Condes de Villanueva hotel in Old Havana where The Cuban Chapter of C.E.U. - Council for European Urbanism -  was successfully launched. The British Council Secretary of Science and Culture attended the reception together with the both the Cuban and the foreign participants.

     The Havana Harbour Charrette was developed according to the schedule prepared, proposed and submitted in advance by Julio César Pérez

Day 1. Monday, March 5th:

     Prof. Arch. Orestes del Castillo - from the Office of the Historian of Old Havana and the Heritage, Community and Environment NGO - offered a detailed explanation of Old Havana and its historic background and current social programs by a scale model of the city on its first day. 

     A walking tour and a boat tour of the site was led by Prof. Arch. Julio César Pérez Hernández, who also gave a lecture about A Master Plan for XXI century Havana. 

     US architect Michael Mehaffy gave a lecture about his experience at the Katrina Charrette held in New Orleans and Cuban architect Roberto Moro - from the Physical Planning Department of Havana - was invited to share the department’s information about the harbour site and its features.

     Working teams were encouraged to be formed based on both affinity and expertise to start working in the different sectors of the harbour site related to the plan mentioned above. There were six teams in total, five of them concerning each of the sectors and an overseeing one led by Julio, Michael Mehaffy, Audun Engh and Claus Zapffe in charge of developing and explaining the overall concepts and general strategy for the project.

     The five Sectors that were considered according to the site’s location and landscape features were the following:

1. Old Havana  Sector

2. Atarés  Sector

3. Regla Sector

4. Oil Refinery Sector 

5. Casablanca Sector 

    Prof. Arch. Julio César Pérez Hernández stated the concepts for guiding the initial work in preparation for the first public presentation

Day 2. Tuesday, March 6th:

    A coordinator was selected for each team and a meeting with all of them was held in order to agree on the format and content of the initial presentation. 

Old Havana Sector. Coordinator Arch. Robert Allsop. Team: Joel Estévez, Caroline Lwin, Jane Bryant, Ole Jan Skogen, Audun Engh. 

Atarés Sector. Coordinator Arch. Juan Carlos Toledo. Team: Andrés Escobar, Benedikte Landsnes, Ulrik Hegnar, Milvia Céspedes

Regla Sector.  Coordinator Arch. Alex Taranu.

Team: Carmen Taranu, Alexis de la Cruz. Ismet Esgin, Yanei García 

Oil Refinery Sector. Coordinator Arch. John Pilling.

Team: Guillermo Fuentes, R. Suha, Amanda Belle, Svein Rasmussen, Birgit Skargen

Casablanca Sector. Coordinator Adrian Lee.

Team: Charlotte Brandon- Jones, Esteban Martínez, Camilla, Adrián Fernández.

Lourdes Milanés

    The different teams started to work intensely at the Hotel Condes de Villanueva, in Old Havana in order to present the first ideas the next day. Several people wanted to come back to the site for more precise judgments and for taking measures although a complete set of scale plans and aerial pictures was provided. As Michael Mehaffy arrived after the tour Julio César took him across the bay in the afternoon to see the fortresses of El Morro and La Cabaña and the Casablanca area and showed him around some of the Old Havana squares and most important streets and buildings. After returning to the venue Audun Engh, Claus Zapffe, Michael Mehaffy and Julio César Pérez Hernández had a meeting with the coordinators to speak about the next day’s presentation.

Day 3. Wednesday, March 7th:

    Prof. Arch. Julio César Pérez Hernandez introduced the initial presentation and Michael Mehaffy was asked to work as time keeper. 

    The coordinators presented each team’s work which was discussed by the audience and enriched by the critics, comments and suggestions, so the first public presentation took place in an orderly manner and several criteria about the work were exchanged along the morning. 

    The presentations were conducted in both English and Spanish languages. The coordinator of each team conducted the presentation of the work.

     Audun Engh and Claus  Zapffe documented the whole process to keep records of every development of the work and at the end of this presentation Julio César Pérez insisted on the need to consider both a physical and visual link among the different sectors and suggested to use the green for that purpose in a way that continuity was achieved and encouraged the different teams to exchange in order to learn from each other. He also asked for strengthening team work and demanded that the different alternatives that were presented were rationalized.

     This session adjourned by lunch time with the agreement upon the need to going back to the site of the different sectors and spending some time there to do field work and keep on working after it. 

Day 4. Thursday, March 8th:

Julio César Pérez asked for a rearrangement of teams in order to balance people skills and integrate concepts that were alike. This way the merging of two of the teams was agreed upon - Regla and Oil refinery area by Regla- and Old Havana and Atarés-  to gain productivity and a better understanding of the site.

Old Havana and Atarés Sector

Regla and Oil refinery Sector

Casablanca Sector

    Norwegian architect Ole Jan Skogen introduced the issue of having cruise ships on the harbour as both an economic asset and a tourist attraction which provoked a big debate about the convenience of this to the harbour and its impact on the bay. The discussion focused not only on the size of the cruise ships but also in the manoeuvres needed and the available area which was solved by assuring that recent cruise ship activity had taken place until recently.

     After intense sessions in both morning and afternoon, an evening reception kindly offered by the Royal  Norwegian Embassy in Havana at the residence followed.

Day 5. Friday, March 9th:

     All teams spent the whole day involved in the elaboration of the drawings and documents in preparation for the final presentation. Norwegian architect Ole Jan Skogen shared accurate information about cruise ships that he obtained by consulting a Norwegian company so that this controversial issue could be approached from accurate data. Work continued in the evening till late night at Cuban architect’s homes.

Day 6. Saturday, March 9th:

    The final presentation took place after hanging on the walls all drawings and documents that were produced showing a big increase not only in the amount of work but above all in the refinement and quality of it.

     The presentation started with a power point presentation by Julio César Pérez as a summary of the whole process and then each team’s presentations followed.


1.     The Havana Harbour Charrette was successful in achieving a high quality work and incorporating all the many ideas discussed along the first days and later refined along the Charrette.

2.     A great sense of fulfillment was prevalent among the participants as well as pride for the job that was developed by the different teams.

3.     A feeling of solidarity and comradely shared work prevailed above any individual

4.     The participants were extremely happy about the results and its contribution to the regeneration of the Havana harbour.

5.     The principles applied to the regeneration of the Havana harbour can be applied to the rest of the city.

6.     The Cuban and Norwegian CEU chapters were able to work together reaching common ground about the importance of preserving the values of the city of Havana and at the same time creating both economic and urban values for its future and for its citizens.

7.     The concept of the spine boulevard and the green buffer allow for the possibility of dealing with natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding due to climate change in the near future.

8.     The concern about the sanitation of the bay and the rivers is to be considered of the highest priority to eliminate the heavy pollution of the area and give way to the redevelopment project of the area.

9.     The willingness to learn, adapt, exchange statements, a proposed ethic and attitude for all people involved in the partnership to deliver the vision for Havana turns the city

into a strong client.

10.     The Charrette concluded with the belief that this area could become a great asset in Havana’s redevelopment, its living room and playground and one of the great places in the world.

Note: this commentary was written by

Prof. Arch. Julio César Pérez Hernández

Regla / RefinaríaRegla-Refinaria-1.html


Habana Vieja / AtarésHabana_Vieja-Atares-1.html

The Cuban and Norwegian chapters of C.E.U. - Council for European Urbanism

Apr 9, 2011

John H. Pilling Home../John_H_Pilling/about_JHP.html


Apr 9, 2011

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