Robbie Kerr worked with ADAM Architecture during his degree course at Edinburgh University, winning a place on our Travel Scholarship before joining the practice in 2010 and becoming the company’s youngest director in 2016 at the age of 29. The idea for this project was conceived during a trip to Cuba in August 2007. The scholarship made it possible for him to return the following year, travelling from the western isthmus to the eastern extreme, from the gritty suburbs of Marianao to the crumbling masterpieces of Central Havana. The intention of the report was to unpick the perceived notion of ‘romantic decay’ in Cuba, identifying the political, economic and cultural factors that have helped shape the island’s architecture.
Robbie has experience leading designs for major private residences and public buildings as well as conservation and restoration projects. More than a decade later he is still drawing on his research, currently developing plans for new Cuban work, in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Havana. What is published here are Robbie’s observations from his travels in 2008. Of course, much has changed in Cuba since, including the death of Castro, the restoration of ties with the EU, Russia, China and the US, and the devastating hurricanes of 2008 and 2012.