Lonely Planet Writer

Rio de Janeiro is named the first-ever world capital of architecture

Rio de Janeiro in Brazil has been named the world capital of architecture for 2020 by Unesco – making it the first city to ever receive the designation.

Museum of Contemporary Art in Rio. Image by ©ostill/Shutterstock

The UN’s cultural organization announced the honour this week, which was established along with the International Union of Architects. The designation is part of an effort to preserve architectural heritage in cities and create a forum to discuss issues related to culture, architecture and social development. As the capital, Rio de Janeiro will also hold the UIA’s World Congress, an event that takes place every three years.

Mansion at Parque Lage, school of visual arts, EAV (Escola de Artes Visuais). Image by ©Cesar Okada/Getty Images

“Through the range and quality of its activities, the World Capital of Architecture in Rio de Janeiro will demonstrate the crucial role of architecture and culture in sustainable urban development,” said Unesco’s assistant director-general for culture, Ernesto Ottone R., in a statement. The capital is also intended to be an “international forum for debates about pressing global challenges from the perspectives of culture, cultural heritage, urban planning and architecture”.

Rio de Janeiro will hold a number of events under the theme of “All the worlds. Just one world.” The city will also be promoting the 11th goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” This will be done through activities and projects that bring together architects, urban planners, policy makers, artists, writers and more in an effort to create dialogue and innovation.

Aerial photo of Maracana Stadium with panorama of Rio De Janeiro. Image by ©marchello74/Shutterstock

A portion of Rio de Janeiro has already been honoured by Unesco, when the Carioca landscapes between the mountains and the sea were inscribed into the World Heritage List. This area covers the Tijuca National Park mountains, the Botanical Gardens, Corcovado Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statue, and down along Copacabana Bay, and was chosen for the fusion of nature and culture.