The building has been mostly unoccupied since its construction almost fifty years ago and has been damaged by tropical storms and flooding from the nearby river.

In recent years, the Cuban authorities have carried out restoration works and the building is reported to be structurally sound. Civil engineering works are also being undertaken to widen and deepen the river to prevent future floods, without altering the beautiful natural surroundings.

The original building was constructed entirely with local materials, a decision which was driven in part by the design and in part by the conditions imposed by the trade embargo. Our aim with the project is to continue this tradition of sourcing local materials, thus enhancing the sustainability of the building five decades after its completion.

A key objective of the project is to preserve the fabric and character of the original building. Any new elements are designed to answer the future needs of the building, without detracting from the original design intent. The existing building will be comprehensively restored and new materials will be carefully inserted as distinct additions, to clearly differentiate between the two chapters in the life of the school.

Foster + Partners, in collaboration with local architect Universo Garcia Lorenzo, has developed concept studies that will allow the building to be used as a centre for teaching and learning dance, as well as a dance theatre, where locals and international visitors can come to experience this dynamic aspect of contemporary Cuban culture. To accommodate a wider audience, the design increases the theatre’s capacity from 250 to 530 people.