Building for the Network Society: Spaces of Information in a Newly Connected Havana
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Since the Embargo of 1962, Cuba’s information infrastructure has been frozen. While other countries switched from copper wire to fiber-optic cables linking to a globally connected network -- the Internet -- Cuba remained an island: an Intra-net. But this is changing. Since August of 2015, over 30 hot-spots have been established in public spaces throughout the country, and this number is growing. The challenge will be to avoid the digital divide that information technology tends to cause: How does a country prevent socio-economic disparities between the connected and the disconnected? The role of architecture in bridging the divide becomes complex: designers need to consider an urban fabric that can allow for the integration of information technology in the realm of the everyday, and across social groups. How can Havana’s new network of information technology grow while serving the public good? A primary intervention is presented in the civic heart of the city in the form of an open and responsive médiathèque. A second strategy is proposed in which new “hot-spots” are inserted within the existing network of public transportation, presenting information access as a public amenity dispersed throughout Havana’s transit systems.