Exiled Cuban architect dies in Paris

Exiled Cuban architect dies in Paris

An architect who inspired design in Cuba following the  revolution of the 1960s before falling foul of its ideological rigidity has died in Paris at the age of 89.

Ricardo Porro had spent nearly half a century in exile in the French capital.

But he lived long enough to see his two National Art Schools — begun during an idealistic moment in the Caribbean island’s revolution, then abandoned as counterrevolutionary —recognised across the world.

Porro’s School of Modern Dance and School of Plastic Arts were built on the site of the Havana Country Club, in Cubanacán, a suburb of the city.

Premier Fidel Castro nationalized the course in 1961 to create a campus of five art schools and firmly encouraged Porro to take on the design job. He recruited fellow architects Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti.

They created villages of brick and terra cotta, merging both Caribbean and Catalan styles. Porro recalled in a 2011 interview: “When I received this commission, I thought there had not been a good expression of revolution in architecture.

“I wanted to create in that school the expression of revolution. What I felt at that moment was an emotional explosion.”

But before the project was completed, artistic expression was stifled as Cuba moved into the Soviet orbit and Porro left for France He was invited back to Cuba for the first time in 1996 and joined Gottardi and Garatti to complete the school.

Porro’s survivors include his wife and daughter.

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