Some people look for a beautiful place; that’s because they haven’t been to Rio de Janeiro”

Other than the majestic Brazilian aura, its dazzling beaches, and the contrasting skyline of concrete and nature; Rio de Janeiro is named the first-ever World Capital of Architecture by UNESCO in 2020; curious to know why? Let’s have a glance then!

Coming from the undisputed crown capital country of football, Brazil has given the world much more than its explosion of colors, carnival, and music. It has blessed us with some legendary architects namely Oscar Niemeyer, Lucio Costa, and an extensive list that goes on. Rio has a diverse architectural culture showcasing its beauty.

So, welcome to the mystical city of Rio de Janeiro, where architecture meets culture and dives into the ocean full of bliss.

1. MUSEUM OF TOMORROW

Style: Neo-futuristic
Architect: Santiago Calatrava

Designed by Spanish supremo, Calatrava’s vision for the building very well justifies the name. The tour of this museum will surely make you address the question about our origins where we stand today? And where we see ourselves in the near future? This visionary project supported by the Brazil Government encourages scientific research and educational activities and not just exhibition space.

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2. Royal Portuguese Reading Room

Style: Neo-Manueline
Architect: Rafael da Silva

Distinguished amongst the top 10 most beautiful libraries in the world in 2014, this epicenter of Portuguese culture and history within Rio was instituted back in 1887. Hosting the largest Portuguese literature outside of Portugal, the building showcases the then-popular Gothic-Renaissance character. The highlight of this library is entirely its interior beauty which exhibits a colored glass skylight and major use of wood for the furniture.

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3. Maracana Stadium

Style: Modern Architecture
Architect: Daniel H. Fernandes

Entitled the largest stadium in Brazil, planned in an effort to host the FIFA World cup of 1950. The stadium has celebrated a respectable ranking for almost over a half-decade now. While its renovation was done prior to the infamous exit of the Brazilian team in the 2014 FIFA World cup, the stadium has been enhanced with regards to the modern-day requirement of the sport.

The new Cable-and-Membrane tensile roof is its highlight, knotted together by the pre-stressed cables on to the axial rings.

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4. Cathedral of Sao Sebastiao

Style: Brutalism / Brutalist Architecture
Architect: Edgar Fonseca

Taking inspiration from the Mayan civilization’s engineering, Fonseca designed this modernist cathedral in the shape of a gigantic pyramidal cone having multicolor stained glass windows spread throughout the lengthy facade on four sides of the building and a cross-shaped skylight on its top. This 75-meter high building can host almost 20,000 people at a given time, revealing its massive scale.

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5. Favela Paintings at Santa Marta

Style: Community Artwork
Artist: Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn

Driven by the idea of strengthening street art in order to have a social impact and improvement, both creators fancy to paint every other ‘favela’ in the neighborhood. After the success attained by their very first artwork ‘Boy with Kite’, they advance towards remodeling these run-down apartments into a lively urban space through art.

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6. Ministry of Education and Health Building

Style: International / Modern
Architect: Lucio Costa

Regarded as one of the most prominent architectural works defining Brazilian modernism, this building is a combined effort by a team of architects which also includes Oscar Niemeyer and was assisted by the legendary Le Corbusier. Although built with a modernist approach, the spirited mosaic designs on the bottom part of the building leave a Brazilian hint to it.

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7. Museum of Contemporary Art

Style: Modern Architecture
Architect: Oscar Niemeyer

Located on a cliff of the Guanabara Bay, this bowl-shaped modern art is a brainchild of the man dubbed as the father of modern architecture in Brazil. The circular design of the building allows you to have a panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro while exhibiting a wholesome collection of amazing art pieces. An unorthodox 92-meter long ramp takes you to this incredible structure.

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8. Monastery of São Bento

Style: Early Colonial / Mannerist

Constructed in the mid-16thCentury by the Portuguese, Monastery of Sao Bento remains to be the elementary model of Portuguese colonial architecture in Brazil. Contrasting to its plain exterior appearance, the interiors ornamented with wooden carvings, sculptures, paintings, and the decorated golden gildings showcase the baroque influence it has.

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9. Cidade Das Artes

Style: Brazilian Modern Architecture
Architect: Christian de Portzamparc

A dwarf city and a huge arts complex developed by a Pritzker award winner, Cidade Das Artes, serves as a platform for promoting and exhibiting art. The large elevated porch on which the structure establishes its presence has a view of the site landscaping that has an aquatic and a tropical garden beneath, along with a glorious horizon pinning down the mountains and the ocean together.

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10. Palace at Ilha Fiscal

Style: Neo-Gothic
Architect: Adolfo José del Vecchio

The lime-green colored palace resting on the island of Ilha Fiscal looks as if drafted straight out of a Disney fairy tale. However, the building that served for the then Brazilian customs authority is witness to the power drift that saw the emergence of the Federative Republic of Brazil in 1822.

The featured pointed arches on windows, doors, and openings are a typical representation of the Gothic Revival style.

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11. Rio Art Museum

Style: Modern-Colonial
Architect: Bernardes + Jacobsen Arquitetura

Renovated in 2013, this art museum is one of its kind; joining two completely different structures and unifying them as one is clearly a distinct challenge; although, encountered with a simple yet efficient solution of having a single wavy roof. While the mansion operates as a museum the modern building is a school of arts.

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12. Museum of Image and Sound

Style: Postmodernism
Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro Studio

Located on the long-drawn-out coastal front of the Copacabana beach, the design of this building has a futuristic emergence is inspired by the famed boardwalk of Copacabana’s beach. The outward stairway walks throughout the interior and outdoor spaces of the building which allows the viewer to have a completely different perspective of the beachfront.

This LEED-certified sustainable building comprises various exhibition spaces, an auditorium theatre, cafeteria, research facilities, and much more.

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13. Theatro Municipal

Style: Eclecticism / Art Nouveau
Architect: Albert Guilbert

Effectively functional since the early 19thCentury, the theatre is home to many musicians, dancers, and artists from all around the globe. Its varied use of materials and different forms of ornamentations like the contradicting sandstone staircase and marble columns shows us its eclectic characteristics. The dome showcasing Persian influence underlines the outstanding appearance the building has.

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14. Parque Lage

Style: Roman
Architect: Mario Vodret

Previously owned by the well-known Italian opera singer Gabriella Besanzoni and her Industrialist husband Henrique Lage this place is now a beautiful tropical public park. This aged mansion now hosts a school of visual arts that showcases their art-work to the tourist coming to the park. This mesmerizing place has English-style gardens and a perfect retreat sited beneath the mountaintop; having a view of the statue of ‘Christ the Redeemer’.

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15. Christ the Redeemer

Style: Art-Deco
Architect: Heitor da Silva Costa

There would hardly be a few people around the world who haven’t heard about this masterpiece. A proud emblem of Brazil and Rio both, the third largest statue of Jesus Christ in the world;it is also an exceptional example of Art deco style. Topped off in the list of ‘Seven Wonders of the World’this colossal sculpture is designed by Paul Landowski.

Also, if you bother to go hiking the Corcovado Mountain it will take you right under the widespread arms of ‘Christ the Redeemer’.

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Omkar Rahate
Author

Ar. Omkar has been expressing his love for words and strong liberal views throughout his upbringing; mostly via multi-lingual poetries. Fascinated by 'paradox', grooves it as his writing wit. Time and again impending 'revolutionary questions', If not about everything, at least about architecture!

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