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UNESCO-UIA World Capital of Architecture 2023: Copenhagen, Denmark


The World Capital of Architecture initiative was started by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the UIA (International Union of Architects) to draw attention to the crucial role that architecture, city planning, and culture play in defining urban identity and fostering sustainable urban development.  

The UIA adopted a resolution in 2017 to formally ask UNESCO to support its initiative to name the city hosting the next UIA World Congress as the World Capital of Architecture. 

The Joint UNESCO-UIA Committee preselects up to three cities after receiving applications to host and host the UIA World Congress and General Assembly. One of these cities is then named the World Capital of Architecture for a year. 

The city chosen as the World Capital of Architecture every three years becomes a leading international forum for debates on current issues in urban design and architecture. 

The city of Copenhagen has been officially designated as the World Capital of Architecture for 2023. 

Copenhagen – UNESCO-UIA World Capital of Architecture 2023 

In accordance with the General Assembly of the International Union of Architects’ recommendation, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, has officially named Copenhagen the World Capital of Architecture for 2023. (UIA). 

This choice is consistent with the partnership agreement that UNESCO and the UIA established in 2018, under which UNESCO designates the cities that host the UIA World Congress as the World Capitals of Architecture.  

Audrey Azoulay said, “We are very happy to see the torch of the World Capital of Architecture title pass to Copenhagen from Rio de Janeiro,” Audrey Azoulay said. “The inaugural World Capital of Architecture in Rio was a real success, underlining the important role of urban planning, notably in the pandemic context” adding that “Copenhagen will build upon Rio’s achievements, by continuing to show the way in which architecture and culture can respond to the challenges of our time, especially in the environmental field.” 

UIA President Thomas Vonier also stated, “This is a chance for ordinary people and world leaders to see the value of design in everyday lives. Our partnership with UNESCO reinforces the place of architecture and urban design in advancing cultural values and influences in society, so sorely needed in today’s world. Architects can see the world both as it is —and as it could be.” 

World Capital of Architecture – Selection Criteria 

Every three years, the UIA hosts the World Congress of Architects, which is organized by a UIA Member Section in the city chosen to serve as the event’s host. The UIA General Assembly traditionally chooses the host city six years in advance. Now there is a direct connection between the UIA World Congress and the UNESCO-UIA World Capital of Architecture program. The main theme and schedule of the World Congress should complement and fit with the one-year schedule of the World Capital of Architecture. 

  • A Joint UNESCO-UIA Committee preselects up to three cities from among those that have submitted bids to host and host the UIA World Congress and General Assembly, with one of those cities being named the World Capital of Architecture for a year. 
  • The UIA selects a host city for the following World Congress and General Assembly from among these pre-selected cities at its General Assembly. 
  • The chosen city is formally proclaimed the World Capital of Architecture by the Director-General of UNESCO. 

World Capital of Architecture 2023: Copenhagen 

Copenhagen will host a number of significant events and programs under the theme “Sustainable Futures – Leave No One Behind” in 2023 as the World Capital of Architecture. The municipality will look at how architecture and urban design help achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in collaboration with the Danish Association of Architects and various Nordic professional bodies. 

Barcelona and Beijing are the two contenders contending to become the 2026 World Capital of Architecture and host the next World Congress after Copenhagen in 2023. An official statement is yet to be made. 

Over 10,000 architects are anticipated to travel to Copenhagen in the upcoming year, participating in guided tours, exhibitions, discussions, and cultural events that highlight design and architecture. 

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