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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

Rio de Janeiro named as first World Capital of Architecture

The Brazilian city has been chosen by Unesco as the 2020 World Capital of Architecture

Brazil's Rio de Janeiro has been named as the first World Capital of Architecture. 
Brazil's Rio de Janeiro has been named as the first World Capital of Architecture. 

Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro has been announced as the World Capital for Architecture 2020, part of a new initiative between Unesco and the International Union of Architects.

One of the oldest cities in the country, Rio’s fusion of modern and colonial architecture influenced by several cultures cemented its place as the winner.

The city was home to many renowned architectural names including the concrete master that was Oscar Niemeyer. His love for all things curved saw him design Rio’s Sambadrome — home to the city’s famed annual Carnival — and the saucer-shaped Niterói Contemporary Art Museum which he conceived of when he was 89 years old.

It was also the adopted home of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón who spent two decades creating Escadaria Selarón, the famous iconic steps in the city’s Lapa district.

Nivaldo Andrade, chairman of Brazil’s institute of architects, said that the city’s architecture synthesises characteristics found not only in Brazil, but from several countries around the world.

The Carioca Aqueduct or the Arcos de Lapa, in what is now the city’s nightlife district is an example of Portuguese influences which can also be found across the nearby Santa Teresa region.

The Museum of the Future in Rio de Janeiro. Courtesy Rio Press Office
The Museum of the Future in Rio de Janeiro. Courtesy Rio Press Office

Jutting out over Guanabara Bay, the Museum of Tomorrow boasts strong futuristic lines as is typical of the work of the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava who conceived of the structure.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio is strikingly nothing like a traditional church. Instead, it’s built in the style of the Maya and was designed by Edgar Fonseca, who was once a student of Niemeyer.

Rio was announced as the capital after it won the 2014 bid over Paris and Melbourne to host the upcoming World Congress of the International Union of Architects. The event will take place in July 2020 and is expected to attract around 25,000 people who will discuss issues including town planning, sustainability and public works.

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Updated: January 23, 2019 08:17 PM

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