The ballet school is one of the five National Art Schools. The unique structural systems reveal the innovative solutions that came about when Cuba was changing and resources were scarce. The National Art Schools are a symbol of the hope and enthusiasm brought about by the Cuban Revolution.

  • Alternative name: Cuba’s National Art School – Ballet
  • Location: Cubanacan, Havana
  • Builder: Jose Mosquera
  • Architect: Vittorio Garatti
  • Start of Construction: 1961
  • Completion: Construction halted 1965
  • Classroom dome dimensions: 17m span (56ft)
  • Construction material: Tile, brick, reinforced concrete

The structural system of the Ballet School consists of reinforced concrete ribs and rings, and tiled vaulting. Tiled vaulting employs interlocking terracotta tiles with thin layers of quick setting mortar. The tiled vaulting sections lie between ribs of reinforced concrete, which connect the rings of the dome to the legs of the structure.

The vertical gravity forces are carried by meridional arch forces, which flow along the surface area. Along these meridians, bending is negligible, which allows stability throughout the structure. These forces carry the load to the ring, which resists their horizontal components through hoop stresses. The vertical components are transferred to four legs that bring the forces to the base of the structure. The resultant force in each leg is sloped. The horizontal components are resisted by reinforced concrete ties, and vertical components are simply transferred through supporting columns to the foundations.

A spherical dome under the self-weight, q, with an angle less than 52° is only in compression. If the angle is greater than this the dome experiences hoop tension and requires reinforcement in the hoop direction. The classroom dome inside the Ballet School has an angle of 28.2° so it experiences no tension.

Student authors of project:
Danielle Sawtelle
Felicia Jiang
Katherine Wojton