The International New Town Institute (INTI) is pleased to announce an Open Call for participation in a two-week Summer Workshop in Alamar (Havana, Cuba) from 4 to 16 September 2017. INTI is looking for students and young practitioners interested in the possibilities of community activation through socio-spatial interventions (architects, urbanists, product designers, engineers, landscape architects, place-makers).
Lead by relevant professionals, the workshop participants will organise, design and build small socio-spatial interventions using simple local materials (wood, recycled materials) to engage the citizens and involve them in the debate on the future of food production and consumption in Alamar.
The culmination of the workshop will be the design and construction of outdoor cooking and eating furniture and tools for a festive dinner for citizens. This food event will be focusing on the fun and variety of cooking with the local vegetables, produced by the urban farms in Alamar. The students will also design a campaign to engage the residents of Alamar. They will think of ways to get (young) people interested, and to make them participate in the event.
Urban challenges in Alamar
Alamar is a satellite city 10 kilometers to the east of Havana, built in the 70s by communist Micro Brigades consisting of future residents. Approximately 100,000 people live in Alamar in identical concrete flats. The flats are spacious for Cuban standards, yet Alamar is not a popular place to live. That has to do with the monotony of the cityscape and the identical flats, but also with the sparse amenities and design of public space. After the fall of the Soviet Union, when the subsidies to Cuba stopped, the cinema, swimming pool, community centers and other places of entertainment were closed. And they still are.
But there are also positive developments: the combination of boredom and unemployment and the reception of radio stations in Miami have caused the emergence of a thriving Cuban hip-hop culture, whose source is Alamar.
Next to that, the dire economic situation in the nineties has resulted in a thriving local economy in the form of organopónico’s: large urban farms. Alamar can provide 95% of its fresh vegetables. In the empty zones between the blocks, a major agricultural program started out of necessity: with the US embargo continuing and no support from the USSR, the Cubans had to start growing their own food. It has created a unique city with a mix of apartment blocks and "organopónico’s" that is an inspiration for cities which are struggling with the same problems.
However, this system will become under pressure when the US embargo will be lifted. Foreign parties wanting to sell large food stocks at very low cost will be detrimental to local agriculture. Moreover, the plantations are run by (elderly) volunteers and are unpopular with the youth. This is a threat to their survival. INTI is working with its Cuban partners to demonstrate the added value of the local system and to show that it is more than just agriculture; that organopónico’s also have an important value for the community and for health.
BUILDING, COOKING, EATING | ALAMAR,CUBA | SEPTEMBER 2017
SUMMER WORKSHOP_INTERNATIONAL NEW TOWN INSTITUTE
How to participate
In order to participate, please send an application including the following information:
A motivation text
Relevant portfolio projects
The proposal must be submitted in PDF format with a maximum of 4 pages and a maximum file size of 5MB and be sent to the New Town Lab Alamar Project. Assistant: Mar Muñoz Aparici - firstname.lastname@example.org
A selection committee made up of representatives from INTI and Cuban partners will review the proposals.
>> Deadline: June 25th <<
Applicants will be informed by July 2nd 2017.
INTI takes care of the organization of the event, materials, guidance and the necessary local assistance. Participants are expected to travel to Cuba on their own occasion and to provide their own accommodation. Travel costs and accommodation will not be refunded.