Today, and in contrast with the financial possibilities of a substantially large part of the population, our urban environments are being invaded not only by spontaneous architecture and urban planning violations, but also by countless elements of poor taste, which are being reproduced by the thousands in the precarious workshops of cuentapropistas, or self-employed workers.2 In part, they are the only choice that most people have for “beautifying” their property, be that housing, facades, gardens, walls, terrace roofs, or businesses.
In parallel, and in every period of these past years, architects and designers with intelligence, rationale, and good sense have fought tooth and nail against the ignorance, bureaucracy, and immobility of local and national authorities, convinced of their professional responsibility and of the idea that the only way to enforce the importance of quality living environments—at every level of design—is by working on serious, effective proposals with a high degree of esthetic solutions and based always on our social, historic and cultural traditions, independently of whether or not these proposals or projects are implemented or shelved.
The architect, art and architecture critic, editor, and curator of the exhibition Señales de Vida (Signs of life), Nelson Herrera Ysla, who has extensive knowledge about these authors, professors, and work teams, called for an exhibition that would shown in our country for the first time what was “brewing” in Cuban contemporary architecture and design. The idea was to demonstrate that we are alive and working, and that many talented people are sparking hope for a future of enhanced living environments, in which society can fully develop.
- A cuentapropista, or self-employed worker, is someone who engages in productive activity outside state companies or institutions. This type of occupation is very popular in Cuba at this time.