Street view of Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro has beaten out Paris and Melbourne to host the Architecture World Congress of 2020, officially taking on the corresponding World Capital of Architecture title by the UNESCO.

With this title, the seaside city in Brazil is now responsible for promoting a series of events related to urban issues throughout 2020, including the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s 11th goal: to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

The theme of the 2020 World Congress of Architects, which is expected to draw over 25,000 international attendees, is “All the worlds. Just one world.”

The program will focus on the fundamental role architecture and culture plays in overcoming challenges and creating innovative solutions for urban spaces.

"Our commitment is to turn the year 2020 into a landmark in the cultural history of the city,” Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella said. “In addition to the international visibility, we will have the opportunity to extend the relationship of belonging of the residents of our city with its historical and architectural heritage, propagating and preserving this collection.”

This is the first time the World Congress of Architects will be held in Brazil, with Rio already recognised for hosting two UN World Cultural Heritage sites: the Carioca landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea, and the Valongo Wharf Archaelogical Site.

The city is home to over six million people and an incredibly diverse urban landscape, including favelas - low-income and informal residential areas that spring up unplanned, a stark contrast to the city’s luxury seaside condos and architectural highlights, such as the Museum of Tomorrow. 

Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava Architects Engineers
Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava Architects & Engineers, winner of the Best Innovative Green Building prize at the 2017 international MIPIM Awards. Photography by Sérgio Huoliver, via Santiago Calatrava

“Rio is a reference of architecture, being the land of so many architects and landscapers worldwide known as Oscar Niemeyer, Roberto Burle Marx, Lucio Costa who helped to build the urban landscape of Rio,” said President of the Institute of Brazilian Architects, Nivaldo de Andrade. 

“The city is also a reference of contemporary challenges for architects and positive experiences in the field of urbanism, such as favela urbanisation programs. We can say that Rio synthesises characteristics found in cities not only in Brazil, but in different countries around the world".

Rio's Santa Teresa neighbourhood features favelas (right) contrasted with more affluent houses (left).

The World Capital of Architecture is intended to become an international forum for debates about pressing global challenges from the perspectives of culture, cultural heritage, urban planning and architecture. It will be assigned every three years to coincide with the Architecture World Congress event. 

Click here for more information on the 2019 Sustainability Awards and Sustainability Live conference.