HAVANA, June 20th (CNN) Cuba’s capital, Havana, boasts one of the world’s most significant but frequently overlooked treasure troves of Art Deco architecture.
Successfully integrating architecture, interior design, fashion and visual arts, this decorative trend had a wide-reaching influence on the Caribbean island.
Spanning the Roaring ’20s and extending into the Depression-ridden 1930s, Art Deco came to epitomize all the glamor, opulence, freedom and hedonism of the post-World War I Jazz Age. Art Deco’s aesthetic is defined by smooth lines, geometric shapes, new materials and bright, sometimes gaudy colours.
In Cuba, the rule of twice-elected president Gen. Gerardo Machado (1925-1933) witnessed the greatest flowering of the movement. Influenced by overseas trends, Cuban architects assimilated Art Deco’s features in a range of buildings across Havana, frequently using tropical elements such as palms and pineapples, as well as African iconography.
Cuba’s Communist era has seen much of Havana’s iconic Art Deco architecture spared from the wrecking ball, although it has also meant that today many buildings are in a sorry state of neglect.
Times are slowly changing, however; the 2013 Art Deco Congress was held in Cuba for the first time, and organizations such as Habana Deco are now working hard to promote and protect the country’s Art Deco heritage.
Tours of Art Deco architecture in Havana can be organized through UK travel company Cuba Direct.