|In GREAT HOUSES OF HAVANA: A Century of Cuban Style (The Monacelli Press, November 2011) architect and author Hermes Mallea gives the first-ever insider's tour of Havana's architectural gems. Great Houses of Havana brings the reader inside never before published homes, presenting their fascinating personal histories alongside Havana's architectural patrimony.
Great Houses of Havana invites the reader to experience the privileged life within the gated mansions of the city's grandest neighborhoods. The book is unique in incorporating the reminiscences of eye witnesses - architects, historians, present and former homeowners - whose memories of mid-century Havana were on the verge of being lost. These anecdotes bring alive the larger-than-life personalities including sugar barons, a rags-to-riches newspaper magnate, a lady anthropologist, an influential arts patroness and the hostess to the early Jet Set.
Mallea, a Cuban American expert in residential design, presents portraits of important homes built in the city between 1860 and 1960, beginning with the extraordinary images taken by American photographer, George Barnard, who was permitted to bring his camera into the intimacy of the Palace of the Counts of Santovenia. These pictures set the standard for giving the reader access inside a famously closed world.
For over four hundred years, Havana was the center of Spanish trade in the western hemisphere. With the expansion of the sugar industry, independence from Spain, and North American investment, Havana became a city of great wealth, great style, and great houses - the Paris of the Caribbean - with impressive public works projects asserting the city's international standing.
As a result, Havana is an unknown treasure trove and archive of twentieth century architectural style - since Cuba followed step-by-step what was occurring in the international design scene. Great Houses of Havana traces that development of Cuban homes from the Spanish colonial to the assimilation of fashionable European and North American design trends - culminating in the uniquely Cuban, Tropical Modernist houses that reconciled international style with the island's colonial traditions. The book celebrates 100 years of Cuban creativity, design and style in greatest residences of Havana.
Mallea, a collector of vintage Cuban photography, has also uncovered photographs from private collections of the home owners. These period photos reveal intimate scenes of weddings, celebrations, and personal moments in the life of these great houses. They also chronicle Havana's social history, including the clubs, churches and schools, fashionable hotels and weekend resorts that were part of the sophisticated lifestyle at that time in Cuba.
Great Houses of Havana will appeal to readers interested in architecture and interior design, social history, fashion, travel, climate responsive design and historic preservation. Mallea's Havana is the true insider's Havana - neither the rum and rumba city of pre-revolution tourists, nor the frozen realm of antique cars and romantically, decaying houses popularized in the recent past.