Museum of Contemporary Art MAC, Niterói - Photo by Carlos Alcocer Sola Flickr CC.

Museum of Contemporary Art MAC, Niterói – Photo by Carlos Alcocer Sola Flickr CC.

Rio 2016 – From Santiago Calatrava’s recently inaugurated Museum of Tomorrow to modernist masterpieces by Oscar Niemeyer but also a multicolour landscape-street-art project in Santa Marta favela and the iconic promenade of Copacabana. In view of 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, join us for a tour of 10 architecture masterpieces of Rio de Janeiro.


RELATED STORIES: Read more about Rio 2016 Olympics on ArchiPanic…

Sunset on Rio de Janeiro skyline from the Sugar Loaf cable car - Photo by LuxTonnerre Flockr CC.

Sunset on Rio de Janeiro skyline from the Sugar Loaf cable car – Photo by LuxTonnerre Flockr CC.

When you think about skylines you might think about skyscrapers by archistars competing for greatness. But in Rio de Janeiro, the amazing skyline was already provided by nature. The stunning view with verdant hills, bays and isles challenged architects to find a balance between two extreme perspectives: modern culture and tropical wilderness.

Copacabana promenade - Photo by ArchiPanic.

Copacabana promenade – Photo by ArchiPanic.

Brazil national identity was strengthen by contemporary architecture. “Architecturally speaking, our tradition is modernity. Unlike other countries, which developed their national style over the centuries, what we call ‘Brazilian architecture’ is not a legacy of the past, but is actually modernsays critic André Aranha Corrêa do Lago to ArchiPanic. Let’s start…

Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião by Edgar Fonceca - Photo by ArchiPanic.

Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião by Edgar Fonceca – Photo by ArchiPanic.

#1 – An alien lures on Rio de Janeiro bay. Completed in 1998, the Contemporary Art Museum (MAC) by maestro Oscar Niemeyer sits on a cliffside above Guanabara bay in the city of Niterói. The modernist bowl-shaped building stands on a pedestal and blossoms like a flower from the rocks. MAC is accessible by a snaking red walkway that slopes upwards to the entrance.

Museum of Contemporary Art MAC, Niterói - Photo by Marinelson Almeida Flickr CC.

Museum of Contemporary Art MAC, Niterói – Photo by Marinelson Almeida Flickr CC.

According to Niemeyer (1907-2012), the “field was narrow, surrounded by the sea and the solution came naturally”. This “natural,” intuitive solution was an elegant, curvy structure that rises from a water basin, creating an ambient sense of lightness and allowing for full panoramic view”.

Museum of Contemporary Art MAC, Niterói - Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius Flicr CC

Museum of Contemporary Art MAC, Niterói – Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius Flicr CC

A reflecting pool beneath the main structure features an angled band of windows around its middle. Niemeyer designed also the Sambodromo that hosts Rio Carnival and will be one of the major venues of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Santiago Calatrava: Museum of Tomorrow - Photo by Bernard Lessa.

Santiago Calatrava: Museum of Tomorrow – Photo by Bernard Lessa.

#2 – In Rio, on the other side of the bay, a new icon stretches towards the sea. Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the brand new Museu do Amanhã, Museum of Tomorrow, features a pure-white cantilevering roof that stretches along a peer on Guanabara bay and faces a new plaza on Puerto Maravilha burgeoning neighbourhood.

Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião by Edgar Fonceca - Photo by Matthew Goulding Flickr CC.

Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião by Edgar Fonceca – Photo by Matthew Goulding Flickr CC.

#3 – The Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião by Edgar Fonceca in the Centro district is inspired by Mayan pyramids, but with a modernist twist. Indeed, the 75m high building is a concrete hollow structure featuring four colourful stained-glass windows radiating from a cross-shaped window at its apex.

Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião by Edgar Fonceca - Photo by Alejandro Cortés Flickr CC 2.

Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião by Edgar Fonceca – Photo by Alejandro Cortés Flickr CC 2.

#4 – Iconic Copacabana is the true mecca of beach volley fans, indeed a temporary structure will host also the beach volley competitions during the games. Here modernist landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx designed the iconic promenade that has been welcoming cariocas, future gold-medals and tourists since 1970.

Copacabana promenade - Photo by tmlvngs Flickr CC.

Copacabana promenade – Photo by tmlvngs Flickr CC.

#5 – Palácio Gustavo Capanema by Lucio Costa was the first modernist building in the Americas and was even overseen by Le Corbusier. Like much of the country’s period, it blends brand-new modernist principles from Europe with Brazilian touches such ch as coloured tiling on the walls and outside pilotis for cooling breezes to come through.

Gustavo Capanema Palace.

Gustavo Capanema Palace.

The Capanema Palace is also representative of the bureaucratic political system. Therefore it is the favourite venue for political (and Olympics) protests and artistic performances as well.

Gustavo Capanema Palace - Entrance with mosaics designs by Roberto Burle Marx.

Gustavo Capanema Palace – Entrance with mosaics designs by Roberto Burle Marx.

# 6 – The Conjunto Residencial Mayor Mendes de Moraes, also known as Pedregulho is a 260-metre-long serpentine building by architect Affonzo Eduardo Reidy on top of São Cristóvão suburb. Completed in 1947, the project hosts about 350 housing units. The site also includes a vault-shaped gymnasium, an empty swimming pool, a school, shops and a health centre, as well as gardens with murals by Roberto Burle Marx.

Rio Pedregulho - Photo by @re_bartolomeu Instagram

Rio Pedregulho – Photo by @re_bartolomeu Instagram.

The The serpentine form was probably inspired by Le Corbusier’s 1929 unbuilt master-plan for Rio de Janeiro that featured a highway on top of curved housing buildings.

Pedregulho - Phot by João Lima Flickr CC.

Pedregulho – Phot by João Lima Flickr CC.

#6 – Affonzo Eduardo Reidy designed also the Museum of Modern Art (1955) that stands on a landfilled site in Flamengo Park. The concrete building has a dramatic cadence of external pillar elements, connected by longitudinal beams, providing a galley level free of internal columns or structural walls.

Affonso Eduardo Reidy: MAM Museu de Arte Moderna / Museum of Modern Art – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 1953. © Leonardo Finotti.

Affonso Eduardo Reidy: MAM Museu de Arte Moderna / Museum of Modern Art – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 1953. © Leonardo Finotti.

#7 – Designed by Pritzker prize-winning Christian de Portzamparc, the Cidade das Artesechoes the stunning natural landscapes and seascapes of the city”. The building is a little city contained in one big structure raised and established on a vast terrace ten meters above ground, from which one will see the mountain and the sea, floating upon, a public park, a tropical and aquatic garden, draw by Fernando Chacel.

Cidade de Arte by Christian de Portzamparc.

Cidade de Arte by Christian de Portzamparc.

#8 – In 2005, Dutch artists Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhaas started and art project aimed to implemented social change with street art.  One of Hahn&Haas duo’s major projects is located in the Santa Marta favela: a colourful explosion of pastels rays of sunshine spreading over 34 houses by Praça Cantão.

Santa Marta Favela - Photo by alobos Life Flickr CC.

Santa Marta Favela – Photo by alobos Life Flickr CC.

The Favela Painting Foundation by Haas&Hahn turns public urban spaces and deprived places into inspiring artworks of monumental size. Offering opportunities to locals, while making their community a nicer place to live in. “A strong social acupuncture that could unlock local potential, boost pride, self-esteem and send a positive message to the outside world” – Watch the video.

Santa Marta Favela - Photo by theverb.org Flickr CC.

Santa Marta Favela – Photo by theverb.org Flickr CC.

#10 – Last -but definitively- not least, the Estadio Jornalista Mário Filho, a.k.a. Maracanã Stadium. Built on the occasion of 1950 FIFA World World Cup, it has been renovated several times and it now hosts about 80.000 people. It hosts matches of Rio de Janeiro top clubs: Rio Vasco, Botafogo, Flamengo and Fluminense. But also major event and concerts. Maracanã will be the venue for football matches and hosted the grand opening of the Games.

Maracanã Stadium - Photo by Pedro Lopez Flickr CC.

Maracanã Stadium – Photo by Pedro Lopez Flickr CC.

The latest renovations included the covering of 95% of all the seats  with a fiberglass tensioned membrane. Inside, the new one-tier-only seating bowls embraces the green field with white, yellow and blue colours that remind the Brazilian flag – Watch the video slide-show.

Le Corbusier's 1929 unbuilt master-plan for Rio de Janeiro featured a highway on top of curved housing buildings.

Le Corbusier’s 1929 unbuilt master-plan for Rio de Janeiro featured a highway on top of curved housing buildings.

MAM - Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro.

MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro.