Dezeen Magazine

Bjarke Ingels meets Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro to "change the face of tourism in Brazil"

Bjarke Ingels meets Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro to "change the face of tourism in Brazil"

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels has met Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro as part of a visit to investigate developing a tourism masterplan for the northeast region of the country.

Bolsonaro met Ingels, described as "the most important architect of today", earlier this week as part of a trip with investors from Mexican company Nômade Group.

"The President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, received this Tuesday (14) the Danish Bjarke Ingels – considered the most important architect of today – and an entourage of the Nômade Group, which plans to invest in sustainable tourism in Brazil," read a statement from Brazil's tourism ministry.

Meeting with the president "extremely productive"

Ingels, founder of Danish studio BIG, was in the country to investigate developing a sustainable-tourism masterplan in northeastern Brazil.

"The last months have shown with jarring clarity that the social challenges of northeast Brazil are beginning to translate into ecological challenges," said the architect.

Last year saw the most intense fires in the Amazon rainforest for almost a decade.

"We have travelled Brazil's northeast region with our collaborators from Nômade Group and met with local governors and mayors, as well as the relevant ministries of economy, culture and tourism and finally the president's office to gauge the possibility of devising a holistic masterplan for the northeastern coastal states of Brazil to create ecologically and economically sustainable development," Ingels continued.

Meeting "extremely productive"

Ingels is hopeful that the trip could lead to the creation of a regional masterplan in the country.

"We return incredibly encouraged with the awareness and readiness we have encountered at all levels of government across the entire political spectrum as well as across state borders and city limits to collaborate towards creating a regional masterplan for socially and environmentally sustainable communities," he added.

This sentiment was echoed by the Brazilian government.

"The meeting with the president was extremely productive, and I am happy to be able to bring these investors to their full potential," said Brazil's minister of tourism Marcelo Álvaro Antônio.

"If this interest is confirmed, we will have a venture that will change the face of tourism in Brazil and boost development in the regions where it is present."

Meeting draws criticism

Ingels' meeting with right-wing president Bolsonaro, who is a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage and drew widespread criticism for his response to fires Amazon last year, has drawn criticism from several Brazilian architects and critics.

Director of London's Architecture Foundation Ellis Woodman tweeted: "Guessing @BjarkeIngels' tourism projects for @jairbolsonaro might not cater for all comers," along with a link to a Guardian article entitled: "Brazil must not become a 'gay tourism paradise', says Bolsonaro"

Dezeen columnist Sean Griffiths added: "How embarrassing for him."

Former New Yorker architecture critic and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Paul Goldberger questioned whether the meeting would lead to any clients stopping working with the architect.

"Serious question: is there any client who will now drop BIG, or potential client who will choose not to hire Bjarke Ingels, because he appears to be so blithely courting the business of Bolsonaro?" he tweeted.

If not, the problem is not just Bjarke's own lack of an ethical compass."