Belmont Freeman’s thoughtful analysis (on Design Observer) of what it is about the unfinished Cuban art schools (the ENA) that has so captured the imaginations of foreign aesthetes is a wonderful mini-history of the intersection of architecture and politics in Cuba’s last half-century. It also revises the incorrect but commonly-held notion that the ENA buildings are the only example of innovative, revolutionary architecture.
Plus, he makes an interesting point that I’ve not read elsewhere:
“In general I found the use of the phrase “Soviet style” to describe any architecture that was, well, not ENA, glib and pandering. To illustrate an interview with Porro in which he invokes the same term, we see a photo of an apartment building that is indistinguishable from any number of public housing projects built in the same era in the United States or Europe, and perhaps better for the inclusion of balconies. I grant that Cuban architecture hit abysmal lows in the 1970s and ’80s, but was it really all “Soviet style,” or indeed that far out of step with contemporaneous international ideas of urban development?”