ReDi (Restauración y Diseño) is a cooperation and training project based on a bilateral agreement between the Italian Ministry for Economic Development and the Office of the Historian of the city of Havana (OHcH, for its acronym in Spanish) approved by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment (MINCEX) of Cuba. The purpose of the agreement is the creation of a long-term training program for Cuban professionals in the field of restoration and design.

The project’s headquarters is located in the Historic Center of the city in Old Havana, one of the 15 municipalities the Cuban capital is divided into. Half of Old Havana’s territory is occupied by the older part of the town, the one that was delimited by the original city walls. In 1978 the Historic Center was declared a National Monument of the Republic of Cuba, in 1982 Old Havana and its Fortification System was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and in 1993 it was decreed a “priority conservation area” by the Cuban Government. At that time, the OHcH was appointed as the legal and financial entity in charge of ensuring its social and sustainable development.

The building chosen as venue for the ReDi Center is situated at 314 San Ignacio Street. Built in the 17th century in the Cuban pre-Baroque style, the house has the typical layout of Cuban colonial homes: two bays parallel to the street, two bays on each side of a central rectangular inner courtyard, and a bay dividing the courtyard from a second patio, or traspatio, containing some small, minor structures, which were used for household functions.

The ground floor was relegated to the owner’s business, while the upper floor was reserved for the private family quarters, which had the same layout of a single-storied house, as if it were built on top of a warehouse. The bedrooms, at least three of them, were situated on the right side to the courtyard. The left side had an open gallery and the dining room was on a parallel bay.

The restoration

The restoration of the interiors and the high-efficiency technological systems designed for the building are the result of a cooperative effort between Italian and Cuban professionals coordinated by Assorestauro (the Italian Association for Architectural, Artistic and Urban Restoration) and Federlegnoarredo (the Italian federation of wood, cork, furniture and furnishing manufacturers) on the Italian side, and the OHcH on the Cuban side. The project has training and dissemination purposes concerning new conservation methodologies. The physical restoration work is being carried out entirely by the Cuban Team, while the adaptive use, preservation study and interior design were all performed by the Italian Team.

Main goals of the ReDi Center | Objetivos del Centro ReDi:

To create a fertile ground for promoting business relationships between Cuba and Italy by increasing professional training in the area of restoration and design;

To encourage the transmission and dissemination of technical knowledge and professional skills, with special reference to the use of new technologies, equipment, materials and methodologies; 

To create a venue devoted to Italian excellence and the restoration and design sector, conceived as a permanent exhibition of innovative techniques and related services, a space for disseminating new methodologies and languages, materials, technologies and operational approaches to the two disciplines.

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