Rio de Janeiro named World Capital of Architecture 2020

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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

The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro has been announced as the World Capital of Architecture 2020, as part of an initiative by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Union of Architects. 

The initiative, announced in December 2018, sees UNESCO 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, although, in 2014 Melbourne was in contention to host the 2020 conference along with Paris, however, it narrowly lost to Rio.

Ernesto Ottone R, assistant director-general of UNESCO, said, “The World Capital of Architecture initiative underscores the common commitment of UNESCO and the UIA to preserve architectural heritage in the urban context.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.”

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.”

Rio will host events under the theme “All the worlds. Just one world” as the 2020 World Capital of Architecture, and promote the 11th goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

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. 

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