La Guarida, a dream on the works

~ marzo 19, 2014 ~

Escalera para llegar a La Guarida
Patio and entrance staircase to La Guarida

“We live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

There’s still time for you to see some things before they collapse and are swallowed by shit.

Damn, boy, do not be unfair, there are too many things. A city, I don’t know…

-They are letting them fall, don’t argue that

-We are a small country with everything against.

Yes, but it’s as if they do not cared. They do not suffer when they see it.

-Some of us care. You and me, we care…

Strawberry and Chocolate (1: 06 ’30”). “

The La Guarida paladar (Cuban term for private restaurant), which emerged in the late nineties, has been a clear example of the fact that there are Cubans who take risks and succeed. It began as a small family business that has become a cultural phenomenon, not only for their exquisite culinary delights. La Guarida is a concept in itself. Everything in this mystical place is authentic, from its eclectic decor, septuagenarian tableware, chandelier lights that contrast with the magnificence of its old lamps; from the Altar to the Cuban Culture, to its inventive dishes that deconstruct traditional Cuban cuisine by combining its recipes with international cuisine. This harmony of tastes, flavors, becomes harmony of senses for the palate and the spirit.

The Camagüey mansión, located in Concordia 418, simply enjoys a unique atmosphere. Originally it was built of stonework, masonry, bricks, roof ceilings with steely iron beams, marble, mosaics and ceiling. Today, despite the passing of time, is still admired for the beauty that one day exhibited. Hundreds of customers, international tourists and Cubans, are ecstatic at its majesty. We, having already admired it too long, have embarked on the adventure of reconstructing the past to make it present.

La Guarida has always tackled the need to develop a deep commitment to society, mainly with the community where the restaurant is framed. However, it is clear that the present time is of vital importance to review it and take it to a new dimension. For this they have set up three main lines that make this social commitment:

First, the conservation of the property where La Guarida is located in, valued as a heritage, social and cultural property. The Concordia 418 building, which celebrated its centenary (1913-2013) – is part of the cultural heritage of the country and in turn provides housing to several families that have grown within its walls s. Rescuing the building is not only a responsibility to culture but also a duty to the people that dwell therein. To this end there has been a comprehensive project that diagnosed actions for restoration and maintenance.

The project, developed by the h [r] g_arquitectura group, was financed entirely by La Guarida. Seventy percent of the work has already been done, in a consciously way by trained executioners and under the supervision of specialists. This will allow extending the life of the property, which if not treated in time may develop potential physical hazards. The building should survive as a heritage piece and as an architectural and social symbol of the city for generations of Cubans.

The second objective is closely linked to the restoration work carried out. The intention is that Concordia 418 can become an example in the rescue of historical items related to construction such as carpentry, blacksmithing and working with the floors. This should contribute to the development of these trades, almost lost today.

As the third purpose is set to continue the long process of raising awareness and dissemination of architectural, urban, moral and work values, from which La Guarida has been a heir and promoter.

Since mid-2013, La Guarida team decided on undertaking restoration work to safeguard not only the property but also the quality of life for residents who have inhabited it for years. According to the architects responsible for the repair “this building responds largely to the spatial structure of the early twentieth century, as urban ordinances of the time, but with slight variations that make it particularly (…) with a mixture of elements that range from amazing arches, unusual baroque balustrades, mythical balconies, exceptional blacksmiths, sympathetic and attractive decorations and an extraordinary and elegant gateway that greets visitors”.