Architecture and Urban Development in Havanna / Cuba
Visual long-term documentation of the city´s development

Project outline, March 2015

The development of urban construction and the restoration of the building substance of Cuba’s capital, the city of Havanna, constitute a process that has already begun and will certainly lead to further significant changes to the cityscape in the future.
The project presented here aims at accompanying the process of change in the form of a digital visual documentation. A method developed specifically for this purpose will be employed: The online architecture documentation is based on automatically operating cameras whose images are archived digitally and distributed via Internet for interactive presentation.

Panoramic view of old Havanna as seen from the „Bacardi Building“ - March 7 th, 2015
The image stock updated daily is shown on the internet, among other places, allowing a worldwide public to directly witness the ongoing development of the Cuban capital. Other media distribution and presentation forms may also be realized.
The instantly accessible image stock, being updated on a daily basis, provides actual and retrospective information to an interested public and simultaneously allows the documentation to be used as a medium of work by the urban planners and architects involved in the development process.
Over the years, the constantly growing image archive becomes a significant, contemporary historical document depicting the urban and architectural changes of Havanna on different media platforms.
The project renders the development of the Cuban capital transparent for both, the contemporary discours and any kind of future reflection. Depending on the architectural and/or urban development situations, the project can be designed for a duration of several years to several decades.
 Vision
The project is not concerned with the interest of the “first world” media industry in acquiring further contents for the global “infotainment”. Instead, the aim is to support the possible interest of locals in independently presenting the development of their city to the world.
The project is therefore not only the attempt at formulating a counterproposal to the currently prevailing global media structure that eagerly exploits the so-called “Third World” as a compliant and colorful resource for the content-hungry channels, which often end up as a sensory overload to the recipients.
 Planned approach

1. Workshop / seminar at a Havanna university (subjects: architecture / media art, panoramic photography, Internet) - or seminar / teaching assignment at technical college (media technology / Internet)

2. If the participants together with local institutions are interested in realizing a documentation of Havanna’s future development, contact is to be made to institutions and patners worldwide

3. Fundraising in Europe and abroad (EU, UNESCO, Goethe Institute)

4. Working with local sources to set up and long-term maintenance of the system for an independent publication of actual views and the image stock.

 Media
  • Online cameras (HiRes panorama, stereocams) at architecturally significant sites-
  • Internet presentation
  • Info-terminals in museums and institutions
  • Time-lapse movies for classical electronic media
  • Location-based systems
  • Augmented reality set ups
 Partners (intended)
  • local institutions: OHC (Havanna Historical Organisation)
  • Universities (architecture and urban planning / media technology / media art)
  • Goethe Institute
  • Stiftung Ludwig
 Funding (intended)
 Martin Potthoff

- Photographer, online media producer, documentarist of urban development since 1986 with his Berlin-based firm cityscope online Medien GmbH

- teaching assignments and visiting professorships at

- cityscope documentation projects, among others:

Website: www.cityscope.de
Example: www.cityscope.de/dresden - urban development of Dresden Neumarkt
Contact: m.potthoff@cityscope.de

La Habana, Cuba March, 14th, 2015