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Brazil landscape garden granted UNESCO world heritage status

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 29 July, 2021 12:00 AM
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The legacy of the Brazilian landscaper who created the concept of the modern tropical garden, Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, was unanimously recognised on Tuesday, during the 44th Session of the UNESCO, held in Fuzhou, China.

It is the 23rd Brazilian location recognised on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.

The Sitio Roberto Burle Marx is a Center for Landscaping, Botany and Nature Conservation studies inserted in a vegetation region native to the Pedra Branca Massif (White Rock), west of the city of Rio de Janeiro.

It was the landscaper Roberto Burle Marx’s residence from 1973 until 1994, the year of his death, and the place where he produced his work for the last twenty years of his life.

The site now belongs to the National Historic and Artistic Heritage Institute (Portuguese: Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional, IPHAN).

It holds a botanical and landscape collection that includes about 3,500 cultivated species, with emphasis on tropical plants native to Brazil, organised into nurseries and gardens, coexist in harmony with native vegetation in an area of 405,000 square meters which includes several buildings, lakes, gardens, art collections and a vast library.

Recognised as one of the most important collections of living plants in the world, it has become a witness of the profound changes undergone by nature in the country.

“The garden features the key characteristics that came to define Burle Marx’s landscape gardens and influenced the development of modern gardens internationally,” UNESCO said in a statement.

“The garden is characterised by sinuous forms, exuberant mass planting, architectural plant arrangements, dramatic colour contrasts, use of tropical plants, and the incorporation of elements of traditional folk culture.”

It is the first modern tropical garden to be inscribed on the World Heritage List.

“(This recognition) is the result of a process that was long and very difficult, but also rewarding,” said Claudia Pinheiro Storino, director of the Sitio Burle Marx. “It was a big effort from a lot of people.”

Burle Marx carried out projects in other Brazilian cities as well as others abroad, including Miami and Buenos Aires, before dying in 1994.

One of its most magnificent international works of Burle Marx (1909-1994), considered by many as the Picasso of landscaping, is the Central Park of the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), by the twin towers, shortly before he died.

It was the last work undertaken by the Brazilian architect. When the park was designed, the aim was to “leave the world a little more sensitive and a little more educated to the importance of nature”.