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The architectural stakes have been heating up in Rio de Janeiro since Brazil won hosting duties for both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

The Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow), designed by Santiago Calatrava is part of that excitement, and is one of the many projects bringing a new civic aesthetic to Rio’s harbour front.

Set on Pier Mauro, jutting into the bay, the museum has a long, white carapace that is segmented and airy at the same time. The sustainable building is part of the $5 billion Brazilian real “Marvelous Port” project that will revitalize Rio’s urban waterfront district. Recently discovered remains of a 19th-century wharf where enslaved people from Africa were held and sold will be preserved as part of the project. Surrounded by pools of recycled rainwater and five-and-a-half acres of gardens, the building’s roof will have photovoltaic panels that will follow the sun throughout the course of the day. The museum will focus on science, and on the sustainable and ecological future of 2061, 50 years from the museum’s 2011 ground breaking. Containing 5,000sqm of exhibition space, exhibitions are expected to feature technologies that will shape our future and the future of the planet. The museum should be completed by 2012 when it will host the UN Earth Summit “Rio + 20”.

Calatrava has also proposed dismantling an elevated highway along the water and extending a plaza nearby, although this has not yet been approved by city officials.

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