Decolonising territorial studies: epistemic considerations from the case of Havana

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Yasser Farrés Delgado ; Alberto Matarán Ruiz

By the mid-20th century, the debates in architecture, urbanism and land use management had acknowledged the homogenising nature of the generalised practices based on functionalism, advocated a rupture with the ideas of the Modern Movement – disbanding the International Congress of Modern Architecture – and commenced new experiments. However, today the tendency towards homogenisation is still a generalised practice: the main cities on the planet that have become global landmarks display "a process of reproduction of typologies that are mutually self-referential globally, but which have few reference points that associate them with a specific culture or local territory" (Farrés, 2010). This phenomenon – which is identifiable both through an abstract architecture with a supposed universal validity and characterised by the use of glass and metal; an architecture which "fetishizes" images of the past and voids them of any content – is not recognised by much of the professional community of these disciplines, who have gone so far as to deny it. Such blindness is understandable because in spite of the critiques of the International style, the widespread practice continued to be imbued with the ideas of modernity and modernisation, so much so that the exhaustion of post-modern architecture brought a reinstatement of the modern ideals.