Cuba's Column/Joint Hybrids

  • Antoni M. Baca, M.Arch. 2018
  • Hometown Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Class Option Studio: Havana II: Projections, Landscapes of Prefabrication, and Nature's Afterlife
  • Instructor Tao DuFour

The Soviet I-464 prefabricated panel housing system first made its way to the island of Cuba in an effort to help the country recover from the devastation brought in the wake of Hurricane Flora. Within the intervening years, the system has helped provide greatly needed housing for the island, and its occupants have assumed ownership of most of their units. Although this has been a step in the right direction, unfortunately, housing still remains a tremendous problem. With the design and development of column joints type two and eight, this project provides a chance to create a new vision of prefabricated housing in Havana. The goals of this next generation system include but are not limited to:

  • Variation in the layout of the system of housing units.
  • The ability for the system to respond and react to the site that it is placed within, including the ability of the system to deal with slope or topographically complex terrain with greater ease (type eight).
  • Allow experimentation with public space and its transition into private space.
  • Establish possibilities for dynamic communal spaces or state-sanctioned retail space.
  • Create flexible/expandable space for families to grow into.
  • Establish a hybrid condition of prefabricated panels and traditional construction methods.


The two column systems are conceived through the relationship between the I-464 panel and its corresponding "wet joint." Because of this shared DNA, their methods of joinery and fastening are identical. However, type two is conceived as a monolithic member and type eight is considered a "system," utilizing a core and two types of inserts.

Type two:
Absolutely simple. This column joint can deal with a series of layouts that can accommodate the I-464 panel and its interior prefabricated system as they are. It can also accommodate brick and timber allowing for a hybrid condition between the existing prefabricated system and other methods of construction.

Type eight:
This system incorporates a system that includes a core, two types of inserts, and two types of corresponding plugs. This system is set to accommodate the I-464 system in its original state as well as a multitude of variations. Within this system, we can see that there is also another set of genes that define it. In interiors, we can see that, aside from the I-464 panel and its wet joint, the ancestor of this system is the standard Cuban brick. This genealogy is clear when you understand that the inserts of this system lock together with their core but, in their absence, the geometry allows for the accommodation of brick and CMU block. This system can also provide points of connection for other elements like a balcony or a new type of timber beam that can elaborate the dynamic capabilities of this system.