Brad Pitt visits urban renewal project in Spain

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The US actor has expressed interest in supporting a cultural project that aims to revive the industrial city of Aviles.

Aviles – US actor Brad Pitt has visited an urban renewal project in the industrial city of Aviles in northern Spain designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, local officials said Monday.

The 45-year-old, who is taking part in a project to rebuild Hurricane Katrina-scarred New Orleans, toured the site where the Oscar Niemyer Cultural Centre, Aviles mayor Pilar Varela said.

He went round with a group of architects on Sunday.

"He is interested in supporting the project, the cultural as well as the architectural aspects," Varela told reporters.

The building is being erected in a port area in what was the centre of the city's steel industry in the 1950s before it fell into decline.

It will feature an auditorium, a sight-seeing tower, an exhibition centre and a large outdoor square that will serve as a venue for cultural activities when it opens in 2010.

Local officials hope the project will revive Aviles -- just like how  Bilbao was transformed from a rusty industrial backwater into a cultural capital when Guggenheim museum was built over a decade ago.

Pitt was especially interested in the aspects of the project aimed at boosting environmental sustainability, said Varela.

"This is why Brad Pitt has come to visit the site," she said, adding it was too soon to say how the star of Quentin Tarantino's latest release, Inglourious Basterds, would participate in the project.

Pitt's "Make It Right Project" calls for 150 homes to be built in the area of New Orleans where levees broke, and floodwater pushed homes from their foundations, when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

Niemeyer's most famous works include Brazil's futuristic capital city Brasilia and his flying saucer-shaped museum in Niteroi, just across the bay from Rio de Janeiro.

AFP / Expatica

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