Florian Zeyfang, with Lisa Schmidt-Colinet, Alexander Schmoeger
One of the first and most important goals of the revolution in Cuba in 1959 was the idea of an education for all and thus the determined expansion of access to education. A new architecture was imagined to overcome disparities between the country and the city that had originated in pre-revolutionary feudalism. The underdevelopment of the rural regions was to be counteracted; the advancement of the population outside and inside the cities was to be harmonized. With this in mind, the first model schools were created in the 1960s, and a nationwide program was introduced in the 1970s, named “Schools in the field” (Escuelas en el campo). These boarding schools were meant to both teach students, and to involve them in the work of agricultural plantations (sugar, citrus, coffee and tobacco). As part of this program, around 350 new schools were built across the island.
For such an extensive program, a new approach to building had to be found. In connection with the increasingly pragmatic orientation of Cuban socialism during the late 1960s, a shift from an individualistic to a technologically determined architectural language can be observed. Standardized construction became the preferred method, using prefabricated components and overall floor plan solutions. The question was, what should an economical and otherwise efficient solution for a population that now consisted of nominallly equal individuals look like? Building systems that allowed mass production on an industrial scale seemed the most feasible way to go.