Who comes to architecture when thinking about Rio de Janeiro? Exuberant nature often eclipses the constructions of the well-known Wonderful City, but a large part of its postcards, such as its promenade and the center of Rio, are the result of what experts consider the best of Brazilian architecture. It was there, between 1940 and 1960, the urban planner Lúcio Costa he began to trace his plants and Oscar Niemeyer He made his first poems in cement. In that period, architecture made in Brazil It acquired a relevant role in the international scene. Today, more than half a century later, it takes up that push with the nomination of its second largest city as World Capital of Architecture, awarded by UNESCO for 2020.
The destiny that the geniuses and creativity of names like Costa, Niemeyer, Le Corbusier, Roberto Burle Marx and Affonso Reidy to give new curves to the Rio de Janeiro skyline, naturally decorated by the cuts between mountain and sea. From that meeting, some of the main frameworks of modernist architecture in the country are born, such as the Gustavo Capanema palace, the Guinle park, the Flamengo park or the Casa de las Canoas -considered the best model of glass housing in the whole world-.
At that time, the city attracted the attention of European modernist architects, whose countries were focused on the WWII. In Rio, they found the possibility of realizing their projects. "Brazil was experiencing a financially prosperous phase, and countless constructions were given first by the initiative of the State and later by individuals, that architecture is the cradle of modern architecture in the country," explains Lauro Cavalcanti, architect, anthropologist and expert in the works of the Wonderful City.
The most famous of the foreigners who worked on the Rio de Janeiro territory was the Frenchman Le Corbusier, who, coordinating the team of Brazilian architects, managed to build the Capanema palace, considered the first skyscraper in the world. The integration between architecture and plastic arts is one of the most striking features of the work, marked by the contrast between two blocks that intersect perpendicularly. The ground floor of the building functions as a public square, while the outer face of its facade is covered with painted tiles Cândido Portinari and inside you can find sculptures by Bruno Giorgi, Celso Antônio and Alfredo Ceschiatti, as well as paintings by Alberto Guignard Y José Pancetti.
The Capanema adapts to the tropical climate of the region thanks to a combination of techniques and devices that range from cross ventilation to green terraces. "It is an example of how modern Brazilian architecture, unlike that of those countries located in colder latitudes, such as France and Germany, started towards the periphery of capitalism, towards other countries [aún] warmer. From this trend, the use of Venetian blinds, the cobogós or the tiling. The architects united around the idea of building a national identity, "explains architect Clévio Rabelo.
Beyond aesthetics, Rio's modernist architecture built spaces that led Cariocas to occupy and otherwise live the city. The residential Prefeito Mendes de Moraes, popularly known as Pedregulho, was conceived as a housing complex for officials, with apartments, shops, a health center, community laundry, primary school and daycare, as well as a swimming pool and sports areas. Extending over 260 meters, the construction designed by Affonso Reidy avoided major changes in the natural profile of the place and gave its inhabitants a view of the famous Guanabara Bay.
Another example is the Parque del Flamengo, a complex of 1.2 square kilometers built on the Bay, with an extensive green area along an artificial beach with 1,500 meters of extension. This space houses the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) and the highways that connect downtown to the south of the city, home to more than six million people.
But not only the architecture of Rio de Janeiro is made of modernism, as Rabelo recalls: "Rio is the capital of architecture because it has the greatest architectural heritage of all periods of Brazilian history, from colonial Brazil". For Guilherme Wisnik, also an architect, the raw works of the architecture of Rio reflect a time when it represented a social value in the South American country. "Only in recent years has civil society taken up the idea of using public space, and that is very important, because if people do not know it, they do not conserve their heritage, only places of great use, such as Flamengo Park. , they are better preserved, "he laments.
Rabelo considers that the title of the World Capital of Architecture is also an opportunity to think about urban issues, as solutions for urban mobility and social inequality, the main problems of Rio de Janeiro. "It would be very good if the Unesco title was capital of architecture, future of urbanism. It would be a challenge to think how the city can integrate better with nature and, above all, how to build a more equal metropolis, "he concludes.