Iconic Architecture in Rio I : São Sebatião Cathedral

City: Rio de Janeiro

I have always heard people talking down about the Cathedral, “The most horrible building in Rio”.  I’d sit quietly and think it is too simple to look at this building and summarize it to being ugly. It is obviously a completely different approach to a holy institute, normally adorned in a Romantic or Baroque style.  I begin to wonder about the architect’s intentions in negating any traditional reference while developing this project.

Facing the building, I think of how the Cathedral communicates themes such as the relationship between architecture and religion, harmony and faith. My eyes begin ground level with the stairs, following up the diagonal lines to the top and towards the sky.

Walking up the stairs, still looking upwards, I walk into the interior and realize my heart has just skipped a beat.  A glass cross on the ceiling, followed by four inclined colored-glass walls, tinting the incoming light, makes this one of the most impressive spaces in town.  The robust cement exterior is such a contrast to the ethereal interior, it almost feels like a safe, storing and embracing the light, air and sound of the space.

After shooting, I recognize this building not only as men’s capacity, but also acknowledging having a spiritual moment. Looking to the cross and into heaven, the coned shape encourages one to get in touch with your spirituality, causing an introspective moment. The lack of adornment causes one to focus on what is important: one’s journey to becoming the best you can be.