Following the recommendation of the International Union of Architects (UIA), UNESCO has officially designated the city of Copenhagen as World Capital of Architecture for 2023.

The World Capital of Architecture initiative was launched by UNESCO and the UIA in 2018 to highlight the key role of architecture, city planning and culture in shaping urban identity and sustainable urban development. The designated World Capital of Architecture also hosts UIA’s triennial World Congress of Architects, with the chosen city becoming a global forum for discussions on contemporary urban planning and architectural issues.

Rio de Janeiro was named the first World Capital of Architecture and was also the host venue for the 27th World Congress, an event that was held online last week due to the global pandemic.

“We are very happy to see the torch of the World Capital of Architecture title pass to Copenhagen from Rio de Janeiro,” UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay said.

“The inaugural World Capital of Architecture in Rio was a real success, underlining the important role of urban planning, notably in the pandemic context,” she noted.

“Copenhagen will build upon Rio’s achievements, by continuing to show the way in which architecture and culture can respond to the challenges of our time, especially in the environmental field,” Azoulay added.

As the UNESCO-UIA World Capital of Architecture for 2023, Copenhagen will host a series of major events and programmes on the theme ‘Sustainable Futures – Leave No One Behind’. Working in cooperation with the Danish Association of Architects and various Nordic professional bodies, the municipality will examine how architecture and urban design contribute to meeting the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

"This is a chance for ordinary people and world leaders to see the value of design in everyday lives. Our partnership with UNESCO reinforces the place of architecture and urban design in advancing cultural values and influences in society, so sorely needed in today’s world. Architects can see the world both as it is – and as it could be,” UIA president Thomas Vonier said.

Copenhagen will host the UIA’s 28th World Congress of Architects from 2nd – 7th July 2023.

Barcelona and Beijing are the two contenders looking to claim the World Capital of Architecture title in 2026 and host the next World Congress.

Image: UNESCO (Credit: @Arcady / Shutterstock)