Home to one of the largest collections of tropical and subtropical plants in the world and the cradle of a world landscape school, a country house on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro – little known in Brazil – aspires to be declared a World Heritage Site.
It is the Burle Marx Site, the fifth of 405,325 square meters in a rural area in the west of Rio de Janeiro that the renowned Brazilian landscaper Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994) bought in 1949 to assemble his botanical collection and donated to the Brazilian government in 1985 to preserve that wealth and create a knowledge dissemination center on landscaping and preservation.
The farm has 3,500 species of plants, some threatened with extinction or that have already disappeared in their countries of origin, and many rare or exotic, as well as with five water mirrors and seven greenhouses with shade.
They also highlight the original house of Burle Marx and a collection of 3,000 museum pieces, including works of art, sculptures, books, architectural plans and antiques.
The house-workshop was erected in 1980 with stones removed from an eighteenth-century building demolished in the center of Rio de Janeiro.
However, the greatest wealth of the site are the gardens created by the landscaper and in which he experienced variations of colors, confections, combinations and textures with the different plants he was collecting in his trips to Africa, Asia and Latin America.
His nomination to Cultural Heritage of Humanity was presented by the Brazilian Government in 2015 and the final dossier of the candidacy was sent last January to the Unesco headquarters in Paris, so its possible inclusion in the list of Heritage assets It will be voted on at the meeting that the World Heritage Committee will have in the middle of 2020.
"Essentially, what makes the house an exceptional good plausible to be inscribed on the World Heritage list is to be a place of experimentation in which the concept of Modern Tropical Garden was created, an important movement for landscaping and architecture that reverberated throughout the world, "the director of the fifth, Claudia Storino, told Efe.
According to this architect and designer, the farm was a "laboratory" in which Burle Marx experienced gardens with the more than 3,500 plants with landscape potential that he gathered, among which are bromeliads, heliconias, arecaceas, orchids, palms, cycads and Velloziáceas.
Despite its natural wealth, and to have unique and threatened species, the Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage (Ipham) of Brazil, which administers the site, preferred to postulate it as a candidate for cultural and non-natural or mixed because of its importance for the world landscaping, since the movement born in this house put an end to centuries of European hegemony.
"We have one of the largest collections of tropical and subtropical plants in the world, but (the farm) is unique in the world both for the species and their composition (in the gardens) and the way the plants were applied," he added.
The house, declared a Brazilian Cultural Heritage in 1985, preserves the experiments that Burle Marx did before designing the nearly 3,000 public and private gardens that he left as a legacy throughout the world, as well as his rich artistic production, which includes engravings, serigraphs, drawings, sculptures, tapestries, ceramic panels, jewelry and even stages for theater pieces.
After Unesco included the asset in the list of candidates, after the respective visit of a consultant of the organization, the Ipham prepared a 600-page dossier to support the application and now awaits a new "evaluation mission".
"All of us who work here are sure that it will be declared a World Heritage Site because of its importance to the world, but also people who have visited us, as specialists in botany, architecture, landscaping and Unesco consultants. meets the conditions, "said the director.
In the house in which Burle Marx lived from 1973 until his death in 1994, his furniture, his works and his objects are exhibited, as well as collections of Brazilian handicrafts, seashells, ceramics and pieces that he acquired all over the world.
Carlos A. Moreno