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Santiago Calatrava-designed museum with skeletal roof opens in Rio

The Museu do Amanhã addresses the future of the planet and has an inventive, futuristic design itself.

December 18, 2015 |
Santiago Calatrava-designed museum opens in Rio

The Museu do Amanhã in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photos courtesy Santiago Calatrava Architects and Engineers.


The Museu do Amanhã, or Museum of Tomorrow, opened Friday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Designed by architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, the museum most notably has a large skeletal roof that juts off of each side of the structure. A 75-meter overhang extends over the plaza that wraps around the building, and a 45-meter extension elevates above Guanabara Bay. The wings, combined with a reflection pool that surrounds the building, make it look like the building is floating.

"The idea is that the building feels ethereal, almost floating on the sea, like a ship, a bird, or a plant,” Calatrava said in a statement. “Because of the changing nature of the exhibits, we have introduced an archetypal structure inside the building. This simplicity allows for the functional versatility of the Museum, able to accommodate conferences or act as a research space.”

The museum has 5,000 sm of exhibition space and a 7,000-sm plaza. The lower level contains offices, educational and research facilities, and an auditorium, along with a museum store, a restaurant, lobby, archives, and storage. Permanent exhibitions are housed upstairs.

As the name implies, the museum addresses issues that affect the future of humanity, including topics like population growth, climate change, and the distribution of wealth. Fittingly, it carries over some of the themes of sustainable design into its structure. Adjustable PV panels can be positioned for optimal sunlight throughout the day, and water from the bay regulates the building’s interior temperature and provides water for the reflecting pools.

The goal is for the museum to revitalize its neighborhood, Porto Maravilha. Museu do Amanhã "is the result of a consistent dialogue,” Calatrava said. “The building was built to be a museum for the future, and an educational unit."


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