Saturday 20 July 2019

Edificio Solimar - Havana's Modernist Masterpiece

Havana is home to many art deco buildings. They range from the pure "deco" style to later modernist and streamlined structures, often with a local touch added to the mix. One of the city's finest streamline structures stands in the otherwise modest Calle Soledad at the junction with Calle San Lazaro in the Havana Centro neighbourhood. Edificio Solimar was completed in 1944 and designed by architect Manuel Copado. A seven storey apartment building, it consists of 50 units and occupies about 1130 square metres. 

I was lucky enough to see the building for myself during my recent time in Cuba. Spectacular as the images I'd seen on the internet are, nothing quite prepared me for turning the corner from San Lazaro and coming face to face with the spectacular recessed and undulating facade, so reminiscent of the waves from the nearby Caribbean Sea. This effect is achieved by what appear to be balconies running the length of building at each floor but which are in fact passageways providing access to the front doors of the apartments. The balconies are much more discrete and tucked away at the rear of the building. The spectacular curves of the facade contrast sharply with the rectilinear design of the remainder of the street. Not only that, the upper floors stand out clearly from the rooftops of the El Vedado quarter, delightfully incongruous compared to the surrounding buildings.

The main entrance to the Solimar is surprisingly decorative, metal with ornate flourishes suggesting floral motifs. Directly opposite the building there is another apartment block - Caracas. Much starker than the Solimar, it does however boast some rather stylish lettering over the main entrance. An extensive internet search has failed to turn up further information about either Edificio Solimar or its architect. It would be interesting to know more about him as well as stories about the building's residents, both past and current. Readers with other details are very welcome to share them!

You can see more pictures of Cuba here.


  1. Great stuff, Adrian. If you hve tim, could you snap a coupe of shots of the Riviera hotel - I missed it and would like to write a piece about it. thanks . Robin

  2. Bauhaus verandas could be either undulating and flowy, or rectiliniar and more rigid. As long as the lines were geometric, I love it.

    But the floral motifs and bold lettering add the Deco stamp. Thank you.

  3. Thanks for the very informative post about a gorgeous building.