City of Arts
Christian de Portzamparc
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Prefeitura da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro / Secretaria Municipal das Culturas
Nelson KON Hervé ABBADIE
The author of the project wished to show this little city dedicated to arts ten meters above ground so to be a very visible reference point to distant places situated in the new district of Barra da Tijuca. This high situation also offers magnificent views on the very beautiful environment made by lagoons and the mountains that compose the 'skyline' of Rio de Janeiro. Above this high terrace, the public is protected from the sun and from the rain by a big roof that provides shade. Between the two horizontal plates of the roof and the terrace are set the large curved concrete walls that contain the halls in an interplay of volumes and voids. Floating above the beautiful park drawn by Fernando Chacel, the building, like a hollow brick, arranges between its built, voids that are like streets and squares of a labyrinth where discovery and surprise mark the pathway.
The project was launched in 2002 by the City hall of Rio de Janeiro, to give to this cultural capital of Brazil, the musical facility that is was lacking and which uses the principles of the Cities of Music built around the world: to gather in one same place, professionals, amateurs and students who enrich their skills through the contact with one another. It was to be the head office of the Symphony orchestra of Brazil and contain an opera, a philharmonic hall, a chamber music hall and the rehearsal rooms. The site allocated to this new project, being situated in the middle of a bypass road, at the junction of both main roads of the new district of Barra da Tijuca, this project had to be a very strong urban signal, visible signal from afar, a new landmark in the greater Rio de Janeiro area. He also had to be a meeting place combining a park, cafés, restaurants and cinemas, to give to the new district, a major and structuring cultural facility.
Once built, the project saw its program broaden to welcome all form of art, like music, but also theatre, dance, art exhibitions, a municipal media library and musical events that gather thousands of people in the garden situated under the building. The building became very quickly symbolical and alive. Its very big concrete veils are, at night, many screens covered with colored images which liven up under musical notes. Congresses, plays, concerts given by its resident orchestra or by major symphony orchestras invited, its well ventilated and protected terrace that dominates the city, all this makes a communion and meeting place very appreciated by cariocas.