In 2012, Rio de Janeiro, a Carioca landscape between the mountains and the sea, became the first urban cultural landscape ever inscribed on the World Heritage List. 

To its beaches, carnival, football and World Heritage, also represented by the archaeological site of the Valongo pier (inscribed in 2017), the Brazilian metropolis now adds yet another attraction: architecture. Following an agreement signed between UNESCO and the International Union of Architects (UIA), Rio de Janeiro will be the first World Capital of Architecture in 2020.

The birthplace of world-renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer, who left his mark on buildings such as the Nitéroi Museum of Contemporary Art, the Ypiranga Building and the Prudente de Morais Neto- Residence, the city of Rio de Janeiro is home to many other buildings of architectural interest, which we owe to Lúcio Costa, Affonso Reidy, Santiago Calatrava and Bernardes Jacobsen.

Throughout the year, Rio de Janeiro will be the meeting point for architects, urban planners and policy-makers, but also for artists and writers who will reflect on pressing global challenges from the perspectives of culture, cultural heritage, urban planning and architecture. In addition, the city will host the Architects' World Congress 2020.

‘The World Capital of Architecture initiative underscores the common commitment of UNESCO and the UIA to preserve architectural heritage in the urban context,’ said Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant Director-General for Culture at UNESCO Headquarters. ‘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.’

World capitals, added Thomas Vonier, President of the UIA, ‘are places of high reputation for their architecture, urban design, cultural heritage, physical beauty and historic significance…. Rio de Janeiro possesses all of these attributes.’ For the UIA, which includes 3.2 million professional architects, the World Architecture Capital programme that Rio is launching will be, above all, a way to demonstrate that architecture can improve human life.