UNESCO has named Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as the World Capital of Architecture for 2020. In keeping with UNESCO’s recent partnership agreement with the UIA, UNESCO designates the World Capital of Architecture, which also hosts the UIA’s World Congress. 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.
Unesco: The Latest Architecture and News
Eight buildings by acclaimed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright have been nominated for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Titled “The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright,” the list of eight major works is a revision of a previous application lodged in February 2015.
UNESCO and the International Union of Architects (UIA) have announced the launch of a “World Capitals of Architecture” initiative, seeking to create a “synergy between culture and architecture in an increasingly urbanized world.”
Cities designated as World Capitals of Architecture will become a global forum for discussion on the world’s most pressing challenges “through the prism of culture, heritage, urban planning, and architecture.” UNESCO and UIA will collaborate with local city organizations to organize activities and events promoting buildings, architects, planners, and related sectors.
The unfinished Tripoli International Fair, designed by Oscar Niemeyer for the Lebanese capital, could become a UNESCO's World Heritage Site. Conceived in the 1960s at the request of the then President Fouad Chéhab, the fair remained a symbol of projected modernity for the country.
Buddhist Monasteries and Spain's Islamic Palace-City Among 19 New Sites Added to UNESCO's World Heritage List
After carefully deliberating in their annual session, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee selected 19 new sites to inscribe on the World Heritage List in the city of Manama in Bahrain. Featuring 13 cultural sites such as Buddhist mountain monasteries in Korea, the industrial city of Ivrea in Italy, and the Caliphate city of Medina Azahara in Spain, alongside three natural sites and three mixed sites (classified as both cultural and natural heritage), the list now aggregates to 1092 sites in 167 countries.
From the historical Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul to the contemporary city of Brasilia orchestrated by Oscar Niemeyer, the World Heritage List has continuously exhibited varied examples of architecture and urban planning from different eras and movements from around the world. Amongst the new additions, there are several sites of religious importance, city organization, and natural conservation.
On August 17th, Brazil celebrated its National Heritage Day. Created in 1998 to honor the historian and first president of IPHAN (National Historic and Artistic Heritage Institute), Rodrigo Melo Franco de Andrade, who would have turned 100 years old. This date aims to reinforce the recognition and appreciation of the country’s cultural heritage.
Oslo-based architecture firm Ekberg Lous Arkitekter have designed Norway’s first World Heritage Visitor Center, after having won the open international architectural competition in 2008. Following the competition, the project was halted for seven years due to a lack of funding, but has been given the green light in 2015 with revised plans and a new site. The center, which will be built on the tip of the northern shore of Vega Island, is expected to be a gathering point for both locals and foreigners. It will provide visitors with knowledge about the natural and cultural values of the Vega Archipelago and world heritage sites in general. The center is set to be open in spring 2019.
Denmark-based architect Dorte Mandrup has won her third UNESCO World Heritage Center project, with her design of the Trilateral Wadden Sea World Heritage Partnership Centre. The project was the winner in a contest to design a new headquarters for the Centre, an organization that aims to protect the Wadden Sea and is jointly run by Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Liminal Studio with Snøhetta and Rush Wright Wins Competition for UNESCO World Heritage Site Education Center in Tasmania
Update 3/2/18: A previous version of this article named Snøhetta as the leader of the team; the principal architect is in fact Liminal Studio.
Australian firm Liminal Studio, in collaboration with Snøhetta and Rush Wright Associates, has been selected as the winner of an international competition for the design of the new History and Interpretation Center at Cascades Female Factory Historic Site in South Hobart, Tasmania.
One of the most significant female penal sites dating back to 19th century, when Australia was still a British penal colony, the Cascades Female Colony was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. The new History and Interpretation Center will allow visitors to learn about the site’s history and how its social, cultural and political implications have impacted present day Australia.
Danish firm Dorte Mandrup A/S has been announced as the winners of a competition to design the new Trilateral Wadden Sea World Heritage Partnership Center on a historic UNESCO naval site in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Selected from 14 entries, the firm’s winning proposal will seemingly float atop an existing World War II bunker and house the offices of a joint Danish, German and Netherlandish corporation working to protect the Wadden Sea area.
With the completion of the citywide light-rail expected in 2020, connecting Tel Aviv’s city center to neighboring Ramat Gan, Ramat HaHayal, Bat Yam, Jaffa, and Givatayim brings a new wave of residential architecture to transform the skyline. The city of Tel Aviv boasts the highest land value in the Middle East, and with this new connectivity it is only projected to increase demand and value.
The city Tel Aviv is deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its collection of over 4,000 Bauhaus and Eclectic Architecture-style builds. The original city plan was made in 1925 by Sir Patrick Geddes, and is about to witness a significant shift. To promote density, the “TAMA 38” policy gives developers the opportunity to add additional units and floors in exchange for updating the existing units and infrastructure.
The Pavilion d’Eau, designed by EPFL architecture student Alexander Wolhoff, was constructed in Lake Geneva, Switzerland. The pavilion is a product of six months of research, prototyping, and coordination with different local and academic organizations done in conjunction with LHT3 labs. The exterior of the octagon pavilion has a structural aesthetic, while the interior -- only accessed by wading in the water -- is ornamental, clad in handmade ceramic tiles.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site municipality of Saint-Saphorin en Lavaux allowed for the temporary pavilion in the waters of Lake Geneva. The project is designed to touch the landscape lightly, not affecting the natural lake bed. The pavilion is comprised of materials including lake stones, wood, and porcelain tiles. To ensure a minimal and reversible impact on the site, the footings of the pavilion are made of seven gabions, metal cages filled with stones collected from the lake.
Working out of a UNESCO world heritage site in Cartagena, Colombia, Smart Everyday Nighttime Design is a research project that aims to use light as a means to build better communities. The project, spearheaded by Arup’s Lighting team with urban-lighting leader Leni Schwendinger, seeks to address nighttime activation of Getsemaní’s streets and public spaces in a bid to improve safety, stimulate the night time economy and engage with the local communities and events.
This documentary, produced by PLANE—SITE, presents the project’s findings and explains the research process and the resulting prototype. The team had two main ambitions:
The website Viagem Turismo compiled a list with images and detailed information about each of the 13 sites. The list ranges from the Serra da Capivara National Park, "full of rocky caves covered with rock paintings" made more than 25 thousand years ago, to the modern capital of Brazil, Brasília, founded in 1960.
Bauhaus Houses, Eritrea's Capital and Ahmedabad's Walled City Among 20 Cultural Sites Added to UNESCO's World Heritage List
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, currently holding its forty-first annual session in the Polish city of Krakow, inscribed twenty new cultural sites on its World Heritage List, including the historic city of Ahmedabad in India, archaeological sites in Cambodia and Brazil, and a “cultural landscape” in South Africa. The Committee also added extensions to two sites already on the list: Strasbourg in France, and the Bauhaus in Germany. On the other hand, the historic center of Vienna was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger as the Committee examined the state of conservation of one-hundred-and-fifty-four of its listed sites.
The Ross Pavilion International Design Competition focuses on regenerating and renewing an emblematic site at the heart of West Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, which is presently occupied by the Ross Bandstand. This nationally-important space, positioned below Edinburgh Castle in the UNESCO World Heritage site, is the seasonal focus for some of Scotland’s most high-profile events, notably Hogmanay and the International Festival’s closing fireworks.
Vernacular architecture refers to designs which find their primary influence in local conditions: in climate, in materials, and in tradition. In a country as diverse as China, with 55 state-recognized ethnic minority groups and widely varying climates and topographies, many different vernacular dwelling styles have evolved as pragmatic solutions that accommodate the unique needs and limitations of their sites.
Rapid urbanization in China has favored high-rise apartment towers over traditional housing because of their ease of construction and the population density they enable, making vernacular dwellings increasingly rare throughout the country. Some firms, like MVRDV and Ben Wood’s Studio Shanghai, have taken note of the many benefits that vernacular dwellings provide, and have created projects that attempt to reconcile tradition with urbanization. Even if you aren't planning on building in China any time soon, the following housing styles have much to teach about what it means to live in a particular time and place. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does encompass the main types of vernacular dwellings seen throughout China.
This article, written by Svetlana Kondratyeva and translated by Olga Baltsatu for Strelka Magazine, examines the most interesting cases of the role of culture in sustainable urban development based on the UNESCO report.
UNESCO published the Global Report on Culture for Sustainable Urban Development in the fall of 2016. Two UN events stimulated its creation: a document entitled Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which emphasizes seventeen global goals for future international collaboration, was signed in September of 2015 at the Summit in New York. Habitat III, the conference held once in twenty years and dedicated to housing and sustainable urban development, took place in Ecuador in October of 2016. The question of culture’s role in urban development, and what problems it can solve, was raised at both events. To answer it, UNESCO summarized global experience and included successful cases of landscaping, cultural politics, events, and initiatives from different corners of the world in the report.