International Union of Architects and UNESCO announce ‘World Capitals of Architecture’ initiative

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Rio de Janeiro, the host of the 2020 World Congress of Architects, will be the first World Capital of Architecture.

Rio de Janeiro, the host of the 2020 World Congress of Architects, will be the first World Capital of Architecture. Image: Jaime Spaniol

UNESCO and the International Union of Architects (UIA) have jointly announced an initiative to designate “World Capitals of Architecture.” 

Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, UNESCO’s assistant director-general for culture, said “The aim is to create new synergies between culture and architecture in an increasingly urban world, in which cities are hubs for ideas, trade, culture, science and social development in particular.

“Through this initiative, our ambition is to ensure that these cities are also perceived as open and creative spaces for exchange, invention and innovation.”

The initiative will mean that UNESCO will designate the host of the UIA’s triennial conference, the World Congress of Architects, as the World Capital Of Architecture.

The congress will next take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2020 and Copenhagen in 2023. No Australian city has been home to the congress.

Cities designated as world capitals of architecture will, according to a statement from the UIA, “become a global forum for discussion on the pressing challenges of our world, through the prisms of culture, heritage, urban planning and architecture.

“UNESCO, UIA and local institutions will organize activities and events to promote projects that will involve not only architects and urban planners, but professionals from related sectors as well.”

The UIA is an international representative body for architects. The organization also manages international design competitions for significant buildings, including the competition for the Sydney Opera House that was won by Jørn Utzon. 

UIA president Thomas Vonier said “We want to highlight how architects, with the help of local governments and communities, can play a key role in identifying solutions that benefit communities.”

“Connecting culture and architecture is essential to create inclusive, productive and sustainable cities and communities for all.”


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