Best of Brazil: Museu de Arte do Rio
We spoke to the team at Bernardes + Jacobsen Arquitetura to discover more about one of Rio's most recognisable modern buildings.

‘Best of Brazil’ is a series in celebration of the country’s rich and varied cultural tapestry. From architectural design to wellness retreats and art galleries, Brazil is home to some of the most innovative and inspiring creations, and we are shining a spotlight on them.

In the centre of Rio de Janeiro, you’ll find the Museu de Arte do Rio (Rio Art Museum). An unmissable example of considered contemporary architecture that merges the city’s heritage with modern design, resulting in a piece of architecture that is sure to become part of its visual legacy.

A collaborative project between architectural studios, Bernardes + Jacobsen Arquitetura, with Thiago Bernardes, Paulo Jacobsen and Bernardo Jacobsen at the helm, Museu de Arte do Rio presented the designers with a challenge,

‘to unite the existing buildings with different architectural characteristics.’
– Bernardes Arquitetura

And this is achieved in a seamless yet, juxtapositional manner. The old, traditional and contemporary buildings are joined with an abstract, aerial wave formation, that doesn’t conceal its purpose in merging the two divergent architectural aesthetics, but marries them flawlessly.

To unite the existing buildings with different architectural characteristics.

Bernardes Arquitetura describes this as,

‘A fluid and extremely light structure, simulating water surface waves. A poetic architectural character full of meaning, simple and at the same time modern regarding the structural calculation. This element shall be seen near and by far, and from below to who is arriving at the Praça Mauá, from above by those who are at the Morro da Conceição.’

The quality of ‘poetic architectural character’ and simple modernism is undeniable. What aids the abstract waves visual language is the translucent glass facade of the contemporary building, which is suspended above the ground with clean white pillars. The use of suspension is canny and balances the height of the two buildings to draw them closer together.

The interior of the Museu de Arte do Rio is a departure from the exterior and artfully mirrors to the curved formations seen outside. There is no part of this architectural project that has been overlooked or underestimated, resulting in a building (or buildings in this case) that presents modern art, yet becomes a piece of modern art itself. This does not mean that the architectural design overshadows and detracts from the artistic works it encompasses but rather allies with them, in a means to depict the creative aptness of Brazil’s citizens.

Images by Leonardo Finotti.

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