Downtown, territory of UIA2021RIO

The main UIA2021RIO events, including the Opening Ceremony will be held in the heart of Rio de Janeiro City, at a venue featuring a wide variety of attractions, and some of the most celebrated buildings in the city, reflecting five centuries of history, from colonial days through to modern times.

The UIA2021RIO venue will be the Pier Mauá, a set of Docklands warehouses that have been repurposed into venues for major events, as part of a sweeping modernisation and revitalisation project for the Rio Docklands, right in the heart of the City. Called Porto Maravilha, this region was inaugurated for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

As part of the upgrades for this area, the massive Perimetral viaduct was demolished, with the roads around the Port now open to the sky, with modern new sidewalks. Furthermore, the Light Rail Vehicle (Veículo Leve sobre Trilhos – VLT) system was also inaugurated for the Olympic Games, with this modern surface transportation option running in front of the pavilions where UIA2021RIO will be held.

The Boulevard Olímpico is a broad avenue in front of the Pier Mauá that has become a tourism attraction and favourite leisure option for locals as well, featuring the World’s largest graffiti designed by a single graphic artist: Eduardo Kobra, from São Paulo. Covering 3,000 square metres, this Etnias panel was painted on the wall of an old warehouse, portraying five indigenous people from different continents: Huli from Oceania; Mursi from Africa; Kayin from Asia, Supi from Europe and Tapajós from the Americas. Kobra completed this work in three months, using 3,000 spray cans, 700 litres of paint and 1,800 litres of white primer for the background.

Museums and a historic pier

The Pier Mauá region also features two museums and a historic centre that has been listed as a World Heritage Site. The Rio Museum of Art (MAR) is housed in two interconnected buildings with very different pasts: the eclectic Palacete Dom João VI palace and its modernistic neighbour, which was once a bus terminal. It presents exhibitions that unify historical and contemporary art from Brazil and elsewhere in the World. It also has a look-out point with dazzling views over the neighbouring Praça Mauá square and the Guanabara Bay.

Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the Museu of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanhã) is focused on high levels of interactivity, addressing issues such as climate change, cultures and habits from all over the world, and the history and future of our planet. Today, this Museum is one of the main attractions for visitors to this region, and a favourite background for thousands of photographs snapped on mobile phones and displayed on social media.

Also in the Rio Docklands is the Valongo Quay, in a region known as Little Africa. These are the archaeological remains of a historic wharf that was rediscovered in 2011 during work on revitalising this area. Until the XIX century, it was one of the main gateways for slaves shipped from Africa. Today it is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Jewels of Rio architecture

There are scores of buildings very close to the Docklands in downtown Rio that are significant in terms of architecture, many of them hosting activities related to UIA2021RIO.

A benchmark for global Modernist architecture, the Gustavo Capanema Palace was designed during the 1940s by a group of architects headed by Lucio Costa. It also included Affonso Eduardo Reidy, Carlos Leão, Jorge Moreira, Ernani Vasconcellos and Oscar Niemeyer, all attuned to the guidelines of architectural rationalism and familiar with the work of Le Corbusier, who visited Brazil and advised this group.

Hosting events related to UIA2021RIO and once the headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Health, the design for the Gustavo Capanema Palace reflects the attempts of the group headed by Lúcio Costa to include the rational precepts of Corbusian Architecture. These include the use of simple geometric shapes, a pillared ground floor without walls, garden terraces, a glass façade, integration between internal and external areas, and the use of natural light and ventilation through mobile screens, working with pure volumes through crossing a horizontal body with its vertical counterpart.

It displays the work of major artists, including tilework murals and drawings by Candido Portinari, with sculptures by Celso Antônio, Bruno Giorgi and Jacques Lipchitz and gardens by Burle Marx. Begun in 1937, this building was officially inaugurated by President Getúlio Vargas only in 1945.

Further down on the map, facing the waters of the Guanabara Bay, is the Museum of Modern Art (MAM), which will also welcome events related to UIA2021RIO. Designed by Brazilian architect Affonso Eduardo Reidy, the MAM building is acknowledged internationally as a benchmark for global modern architecture. Its gardens were designed by Roberto Burle Marx, who also planned the entire landscape of the Parque Flamengo park framing this museum.

The MAM also played a crucial role in Brazil’s Modern Art movement. Dedicated to avant-garde and experimental art throughout its history, this Museum has welcomed a dozens of local artistic movements, including the Grupo Frente group (1954), Neoconcrete Art (1959), New Brazilian Objectivity (1967), Cinema Novo (1960s), Cinema Marginal (1970s), short feature films and independent documentaries (1970s–1980s) and Contemporary Experimental Cinema (2000s). Its collections also include some 6,600 Brazilian and international works of modern and contemporary art, with almost 6,600 works from the Gilberto Chateaubriand collection, in addition to 1,800 photographs on loan from the Joaquim Paiva Collection.

Closer to the Pier Mauá is another historic building which is the first record of Neoclassicism in Rio de Janeiro. This trend grew more popular in the City, leading to colonial homes with more cosmopolitan tone, following the European style of that time. Today home to the Casa França-Brasil culture centre, this building was originally commissioned by King John from Grandjean de Montigny, an architect from the French Artistic Mission, later playing a significant role in the History of Brazil and Rio de Janeiro. The site of the city’s Praça de Comércio market in 1820, it became the Customs House four years later, and remained so until 1944.

From then on it was used as a storage facility by a bank and as the headquarters of the II Jury Court. In 1984 anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro, who was the Rio de Janeiro Culture secretary at that time, raised funds from Brazil and France to restore this building, retaining the original architectural lines designed by Montigny. Timely, the Casa França-Brasil culture centre was inaugurated on March 29, 1990, featuring an eclectic programme of exhibitions with a wide variety of topics by famous modern and contemporary artists, including Juan Miró, Glauco Rodrigues, Antonio Henrique Amaral, the Campana Brothers and Niki de Saint Phalle.

From 2008 onwards, after structural works and restauration efforts, the Casa França-Brasil adopted a new institutional mission and curatorial line, focused on contemporary art and culture. Today, it is a benchmark for contemporary art, in addition to offering courses, seminars and lecture cycles. Open to the public, its reading room offers a widely diversified collection of contemporary art books and catalogues that can be consulted on-site. Listed as a Brazilian historic and artistic heritage site, this building also features original furniture designed by Gringo Cardia.



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