The results are in and the winners of Shaking Up Havana’s Malecon are here! This competition’s focus was to breathe new life into Havana’s iconic coastal road. The goal was to add a new layer of urban intervention to Havana’s unique socio-historical context by working on the Malecon’s identity as both a prime hotspot for Havana’s rich social life but also reinforcing it as a sea protection against increasingly violent hurricane storms.

Shaking Up Havana’s Malecon was organized by Eleven, an architecture and creative-lifestyle magazine, design agency and online platform dedicated to creative innovation, architecture and design. Eleven is one of the leading competition generators, creating award-winning international challenges and publishing articles on the industry’s coolest people, places, ideas and designs.

View the winners and their projects below.

Competition Winner: “Turning the Malecon” by Javier Galindo (USA)

Project Description: At the initial signs of the first incoming storm of the Caribbean’s hurricane season, the residents of the surrounding blocks and neighborhoods of Havana’s Malecon will come together for a unique event and celebration. Teams of 10 habaneros each, representing a city block, building address or social club located in the close vicinity, will participate in the collective turning of a boardwalk into sea walls.

The people of Havana have a history of turning one thing into another due to economic scarcity, epitomized in the phrase “resolver” meaning to solve, addressing necessity through practical ingenuity. The turning of a seafront boardwalk into a flood prevention mechanism fits into this strategy that is very representative of the city’s culture and innovation.

At the sound of a signal, 8 kilometers of floating piers will rise in unison and turn into a protective wall that undulates along the Malecon coastline. This unique performance will not only signal the changing character of the weather and seasons but also represent the determination and union of residents to preserve and safeguard their city.

The basic unit module of the project is low-tech in character. A timber floating pier divided into 3 engaged segments, each ranging from 10 to 16 meters. They are painted in the vibrant characteristic colors of the city, and when unfolded become a continuous active boardwalk, full of a variety of spaces ranging from restaurant areas, urban pools to fishing docks.

When the floating piers are raised through ropes by the individual teams from the Malecon sidewalk, the 3 segments fold into an A-frame wall capable of countering strong waves and winds. This raising and lowering process, requiring the citizen’s collective participation, can be repeated several times a year when the city is threatened by the weather.

Runner- Up: “In Between the Icon” by Sebastian Sowa, Gianluca Torini, & Meike Schroder (Germany)

Project Description:  The climate is changing and so is the sea. A rising sea level and a greater number of natural disasters can be assumed. How Cuba or the city of Havana will develop in an economical or political context, can not be answered by landscape. Especially because both landscape and politics are developed in contrasting timeframes.

The design develops a landscape scenario. It gets its inspiration from the current landscapes of city and sea. Seeking a new, timeless relationship that sets a vision for the Malecon beyond the political geometry to finally open a new space for the inhabitants and visitors of Havana.

Mangrove Reef Park We propose a new artificial reef that is used as an anchor for the swimming sister and as basis for mangroves to grow on. At the final stage it will turn into a new type of public park: The Mangrove Reef Park. Palm Avenue The existing Malecón is a narrow sidewalk. To amplify the social space for the people the street will be reduced to four lanes. Cuban royal palms provide shadow letting the view to the sea still intact. The sidewalk will turn into a sea promenade appropriate for the icon: The Palm Avenue. Wetland Plaza Storm water will slowly flow back into the sea and form salt water puddles. High tide water will rise and fall inside the mangrove wetlands. These moments are turning points in the relationship between the habaneros and the sea. The dangerous enemy will turn into a playful friend. Sea and city are mixing together into a new kind of water themed square: The Wetland Plaza. La Laguna Salt water pools cut into the cliffs alongside the Malecón are tradition in Havana. Especially in Centro Habana habaneros are still using them excessively so they are frequently overcrowded. We propose a new kind of lagoon providing an amplified space for swimming: La Laguna.

People’s Choice Award Winner: “Malecon Vol.2” by Ehsan Talebian (Iran)

Honorable Mentions Include: 

  • ‘Shaking Up Havana’s Malecon’ by Amélie Ferlin & Beatrice Corsini (France, Italy)
  • ‘The Pearltress’ by Byungryoung Lee, Sang Hyun Park, Dong Won Lee & Jinsung Kim (South Korea)
  • ‘Malecon Rhapsody: The Curves that Mitigate Waves’ by Xiru Chen & Stella Yuan Lin (China)
  • ‘Malecon 2085: The 8000 Floating Islands of Cuba’ by Lena Wimmer, Basel Hamad & Hadrian Tombak (Germany, Syria, Malaysia)
  • ‘The Malecon Sea Room’ by Leo Xian, Alecsandra Trofin, Ezmira Peraj & Sheryl Lam (China, Romania, Albania, UK)
  • ‘Habanamar, From the Sea to the City’ by Francesca Vanelli & Chiara Pellizzola (Italy)

To learn more about Eleven and their project winners visit