Three architectural highlights from Rio de Janeiro

    The world cultural authority Unesco has declared the Brazilian megacity Rio de Janeiro the first World Capital of Architecture 2020. With a series of activities, the metropolis is to demonstrate the important role of architecture and culture for sustainable urban development. Architects in Rio de Janeiro have been implementing their ideas for social and aesthetic urban development for years. We introduce three recent highlights that have their sights firmly set on shaping the future and society:

    Museu do Amanhã

    Year of opening: 2015  

    Architects: Santiago Calatrava

    Eye-catching: Located next to the waterfront in Rio de Janeiro's harbor, the Museu do Amanhã, said to be modeled on the flower of a bromeliad, is considered an icon of modernism that lives progress not only inside but also outside. Its 4,500 wings of solar cells flexibly capture sunlight and already generate a tenth of the energy consumed. Inside, visitors are interactively guided toward the future through the areas of Cosmos, Earth, Anthropocene, Today and Tomorrow. The design of the Science Museum, with its cantilevered roof and hewn facade, links the metropolis' past with its innovative ambitions for the coming century.

    Mueum für Zeitgenössische Kunst

    Year of opening: 1996

    Architect: Oscar Niemeyer

    Eye-catching: A snow-white structure, the Museum of Contemporary Art floats 16 meters above a cliff in Niteroi, opening up sweeping views across the Bay of Rio. With its flowing forms and lines of glass and steel, the structure, which is reminiscent of a spaceship, fits into the functional style of its architect Oscar Niemeyer: a formal language of dream, fantasy, curves and empty spaces. The corpus of three levels is accessed by an intricate ramp of red tartan flooring, and the museum's façade and windows slope downward at 40 degrees. With the museum, the most important representative of Brazilian modernist architecture initiated a modernization plan for Niteroi, located just outside Rio.

    Cidade das Artes

    Year of opening: 2013

    Architects: Christian de Portzamparc

    Eye-catching: Like a large porch above Rio and set amid a barren landscape, Cidades das Artes represents the presence of urbanity. Designed by French architect Christian de Portzamparc, the small city of the arts in the young Barra da Tijuca district pays homage to the archetype of Brazilian architecture. Geometrically twisted shapes characterize the approximately 90,000-square-meter cultural complex made of an elaborate reinforced concrete structure. A characteristic feature is the alternation of curved concrete slabs and columns, which are interrupted by windows and recesses of various sizes. The public and generously designed terrace opens up a spectacular view of the district and provides access to concert halls, theaters and the stage of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra. During the ten-year construction period, the steadily rising costs were a source of displeasure. Initially calculated at the equivalent of 16 million euros, the final cost was around 98 million euros.