Roberto Burle Marx Site Nominated for UNESCO World Heritage List


Michele Racioppi


Docomomo US staff


News, Travel Tour
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Roberto Burle Marx was a revolutionary Brazilian landscape artist inspired by Modernism, abstraction, and the unique plant life of his home country’s rainforests. In his 60-year-long career he worked with Oscar Niemeyer on the landscape designs for Brasilia, created mosaics that line the pavement of Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, and designed over 2,000 gardens worldwide. He worked in other media as well, including painting, sculpture, theater design, tapestries, and jewelry. He was an early proponent of the fight against deforestation. 

In the past few years, efforts have been made to preserve and celebrate his legacy. In 2016, a retrospective was held at the Jewish Museum in New York City. This summer, the exhibition "Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx" will run at the New York Botanical Garden. In October, Docomomo US will spend a day visiting his home and studio during the Modern Brazil travel tour

Now, the Brazilian government has officially submitted his home and studio, Sitio Roberto Burle Marx, to UNESCO for consideration as a World Heritage Site (preparation of the nomination began in 2015). The 100-acre property was purchased by Burle Marx in 1949. According to the nomination, it includes "an extraordinary botanical-landscape collection, seven buildings, five reflecting pools and a museum collection of over three thousand items, what constitutes the largest and most important storage of the work of the artist." For Burle Marx, his home was a place of peace and refuge as well as experimentation. As a result, the site is home to a combination of over 3,500 cultivated and indigenous plant species, making it "one of the most important collections of living plants in the world, both in number of individual species as in its diversity." Burle Marx donated the property to the government of Brazil in 1985 so that it could be maintained and serve an educational purpose for the public.

Burle Marx completed projects all over the world, but his home and studio captures the breadth and depth of his many talents and interests in one place. When UNESCO announces its next round of new sites in mid-2020, we'll be pulling for this important piece of our modern heritage. 

"Brazil nominates artist's retreat as World Heritage Site," Agencia EFE, April 4, 2019.

Join us for the Modern Brazil Travel Tour and experience Sitio Roberto Burle Marx for yourself!