Miramar - High End Havana

Students: Steffi Püntener, Caroline Welter
Location: Group work in Havana
Date: June, 2007
Type: Research project, student work, high-end Havana

The former high-end housing areas of Havana start at Miramar and stretch westward into garden towns from 1930s such as Cubanacan and La Corronela, where the Swiss embassy – the famous Casa Schultess by Neutra - is located. Arguably, these are the areas from which the most of the previous bourgeois owners had left the city after the revolution. The areas were resettled, not informally, but by an organized governmental procedure. It is said that ownership of such properties is nationalized from former owners and given over to the new tenants. To this day, housing market in Cuba does not exist, making it difficult to trade or exchange a property. Property prices are officially uniform, but on informal market they differ hugely. At the same time a certain pressure exists by former owners claiming their property back. Even though the class differences in socialist Havana officially don’t exist, experience shows that social segregation in Cuba and in Havana is a more and more pronounced phenomenon. The recent years following the periodo especial have allowed for a degree of liberalization and generation of wealth. For example, renting of housing space to foreigners and foreign companies became possible. Differentiation of activities in these areas is also a contemporary phenomenon. Through these and other mechanisms, former luxurious housing neighborhoods are once again becoming privileged. Estimations show that at present, coastal municipalities where Miramar and other mentioned neighborhoods are located are 5 times as rich as the land-locked ones.
Hence, the main interest of this study is to investigate the reality of social differences in Havana, focusing on the wealthy end of the spectrum.

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