Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava opens in Rio de Janeiro

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Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava's science museum with a skeletal roof that projects over a public plaza has opened in Rio de Janeiro (+ slideshow).

Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava
Photograph by Bernard Miranda Lessa

Called the Museum of Tomorrow, the museum holds 5,000 square metres (53,819 square feet) of exhibition space surrounded by a 7,600-square-metre (81,805 square feet) plaza on Guanabara Bay.

Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava
Photograph by Bernard Miranda Lessa

The project is part of a larger revitalisation of the Porto Maravilha neighbourhood near the bay.

Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava
Photograph by Bernard Miranda Lessa

"The city of Rio de Janeiro is setting an example to the world of how to recover quality urban spaces through drastic intervention and the creation of cultural facilities such as the Museum of Tomorrow," said Calatrava.

Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava
Photograph by Bernard Miranda Lessa

"This vision led us, in our first designs, to propose the addition of a plaza outside the museum," the architect added. "The plaza creates a more cohesive urban space and reflects the neighbourhood's greater transformation."

Museum-of-Tomorrow_Santiago-Calatrava_Rio-de-Janeiro_dezeen_936_11
Photograph by Cesar Barreto

Burle Marx Studio designed the grounds, which include native planting surrounding the large paved piazza.



The building is oriented along the north-south axis, perpendicular to the bay. This highlights the horizontal of the design, which includes a massive trussed roof capped with solar panels that move to follow the position of the sun.

Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava
Photograph by Cesar Barreto

The roof is supported by curving white ribs. A half circle-shaped window tops the entrance.

Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava
Photograph by Thales Leite

Water from the bay is used to cool the building and feed the large reflecting pools on both ends of the museum. The water is then returned back into the sea.

Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava
Photograph by Thales Leite

Inside, the museum includes temporary and permanent exhibition areas, a 400-seat auditorium, an education centre, cafe and gift shop.

Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava
Photograph by Thales Leite

The all-white interior has curving walls, staircases, and ceilings. Many of the displays, created by US-based exhibition designer Ralph Appelbaum, are freestanding.

Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava
Photograph by Thales Leite

The museum will explore topics such as climate change and population growth, changes in biodiversity, genetic engineering and bioethics, and new advances in technology.

Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava
Photograph by Thales Leite

The project was funded the City of Rio de Janeiro, the Roberto Marinho Foundation, Banco Santander, BG Project, and the government of Brazil. Rio is gearing up to host the 2016 Olympic Summer games, which will largely take place in 15 sports venues on a lagoon-side peninsula masterplanned by AECOM.

Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava
Photograph by Bernard Miranda Lessa

Calatrava recently unveiled designs for a trio of bridges in the Chinese city of Huashan. He is also working on a transit hub and a Greek Orthodox church at the World Trade Center site.

  • Bruno Gaspar

    It is not Puerto, it’s Porto. Portuguese, not Spanish. ;) And “Porto Maravilha” is how they’re calling the area revitalisation project.

  • ivan.capitani

    Horrible.

  • Roberto Sideris

    Fascinating design, the large window makes it appear like a cathedral. But seeing as it’s Calatrava, when is the roof going to start leaking?

  • Fistule

    With Calatrava, tomorrow looks like yesterday…

  • Filippo De Francesco

    A strangely heavy and bulky structure for Calatrava. The cantilevered roof and that strangely shaped frontal window (à la French Gothic Cathedral) certainly do not seem to help. Shame.

  • chronologic

    A baffling, frightening, “function-follows-form” kind of building, don’t you think?

    • max

      Where does this form follow the function?

  • Marsellus W.

    Sure. You can build something like that, or you can just watch Alien with a white filter on the screen.

  • The_Pinchhitter

    Classic Calatrava! Looks like a giant dinosaur; would have been really awesome if he hadn’t included that round window, and if those reptilian scales on the top had been more uniform, or glassy.

  • Brennan Murray

    Looks like a spaceship or a warp core, like the whole thing powers a larger building or being.