All posts by Archi Vitalist

School of Ballet 1961 – 1963

Vittorio Garatti designed the School of Ballet as a complex of bricks curved walls and Catalan vaulted structure that reflected the optimism and exuberance of the time. The schools wanted to reinvent the architecture, as the revolution was hoping to reinvent society.

Garatti writes: “We took care to invade as little as possible the golf. We located several schools on the outskirts of the park, closer to the upper-middle class houses arranged along that sort of ring that surrounds the golf course”

The vitalist design of the school is deeply connected with the depth of the earth, a dark and telluric world where only gorgeous bulbs and splendid cupolas can emerge and raise towards the light.

The construction of the complex was interrupted after the missile crisis, when the naval blockade imposed by the United States forced to a different assessment for economic and productive priorities.

The School of Arts’ good consideration underwent on an ideological disgrace as a consequence of a different political and cultural mindset that considered the utopian architecture politically incorrect when compared to the Soviet building style that was acquiring dominance in the island. In 1965 the whole complex was abandoned, fell into ruins, and part of the materials were removed to be reused in other construction.

In November 2012 international press announced a project of restoration and re-use of the Havana school of ballet put forward by Cuban ballet superstar Carlos Acosta. The british architect Norman Foster was in charge of this rehab project.

However,the project was stalled because of the opposition of Vittorio Garatti, who protested that he had been sidelined.

​School of Music 1961 – 1965

La Havane Cuba​
Architect V​ttorio G​aratti

The School of Music is constructed as a serpentine ribbon 330 meters long, embedded in and traversing the contours of the landscape approaching the river. The scheme and its paseo arquitectonico begin where a group of curved brick planters step up from the river. This path submerges below ground as the band is joined by another layer containing group practice rooms and another exterior passage, shifted up in section from the original band. Displacements are read in the roofs as a series of stepped, or terraced, planters for flowers. This 15m wide tube, broken into two levels, is covered by undulating, layered Catalan vaults that emerge organically from the landscape, traversing the contours of the ground plan. Garatti’s meandering paseo arquitectonico presents an ever-changing contrast of light and shadow, of dark subterranean and brilliant tropical environments

Gare Orient – Lisbonne 1993 – 1998

The railway station built by Santiago Calatrava in Lisbon is a brilliant use of space based on a vitalist concept.
The steel structure, concrete and glass spreads over four different levels. Most impressive is the highest level, where four train platforms are covered with a glass roof supported by pillars that look like trees with many branches.
On the ground floor, wide entrances covered by huge canopies facilitate access to the railway station. Spacious halls and many passages allow flow through the structure through large arches of concrete, like the roots of this underground world, which support the upper floors.
The Oriente station has become an iconic structure and one of the most important architectural monuments built in Lisbon.