This is the first time the heritage body has made such a distinction. As the World Capital, Rio will “become an international forum for debates about pressing global challenges from the perspectives of culture, cultural heritage, urban planning and architecture,” according to the UNESCO website. It will also host the World Congress of Architects, an event that happens every three years.
The architecture in Rio is a fascinating blend between the historic—places like the Old Cathedral, Parque Lage—and the cutting edge. Santiago Calatrava’s Museum of Tomorrow, for example, is a shining example of neo-futurism. With its white, spine-like roof that juts out into the air and eco-friendly design (it’s powered through solar panels), style and sustainability are symbiotic. Then there’s the Christian de Portzamparc-designed Cidade das Artes, a curved concrete building that exudes elegant brutalism.
But perhaps no building better represents Rio’s innovate design than the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum. Its distinctive saucer shape and bright red walkway makes it resemble more of a UFO than a cultural space. Combined with its cliffside location, it’s one of the must-see cultural marvels in Rio, and perhaps even the world. (Even Nicolas Ghesquière’s a fan: the space played host to the 2017 Louis Vuitton resort show.)
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