The striking tiled domes of the Ballet School of the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana are internationally acclaimed Cuban architectural icons. However, due to their deceptive tiled appearance and their only recently rediscovered hybrid tile–concrete construction system, the domes have eluded structural study and characterization. Yet, such studies are increasingly demanded not only because of their unique morphology and monumental status, but also because of their visible damage. This work defined a suitable numerical analysis method for diagnosing these hybrid structures by applying both linear elastic and nonlinear (using the damaged concrete plasticity constitutive model) numerical analyses. A site investigation campaign provided materials and geometric data that informed model creation and damage documentation which validated the analysis results.
A new synthesis of architectural and technical sources covering the development and spread of the hybrid structural system allowed the ISA domes to be placed, for the first time, in their proper structural context and, consequently, for their conception and design to be understood more fully. Because the investigation indicated significant risk of irreversible damage or failure without timely intervention, preliminary intervention explorations were conducted. Based on a holistic understanding of the structures, a technically, architecturally, and culturally optimal solution was identified.
Hughes, M., Celli, S., Heubner, C., Garlock, M., Ottoni, F., Del Curto, D., Wang, S., Glisic, B. (2023). Nonlinear finite-element analysis for structural investigation and preservation of reinforced hybrid thin tile-reinforced concrete domes of the historic school of ballet classrooms in Havana, Cuba. Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities (ASCE), 37 (1)