The purpose of the new Centro Niemeyer in the medieval town of Avilés, northern Spain, is, it is hoped, to stimulate an economic renaissance in the region in the same way that the arrival of the Guggenheim did in Bilbao. While the influx of tourism that Frank Gehry’s mirrored structure generated might sound difficult to recreate, let alone better, the local government of Avilés has triumphed with a monumental structure designed by the legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.

At 103-years-old, the Centro Niemeyer is the architect’s first project in Spain and, in his own words, the most important of all his European designs. A cultural center dedicated to art, music, theatre and cinema, it is also something of an Oscar Niemeyer theme park. Niemeyer World is set on a vast site and includes several buildings that recall some of his greatest hits, including the Sao Paulo Palace of the Arts and the iconic structures of Brasilia. Central to the compound is a 50ft high dome that is home to an amphitheatre and which is flanked by a three-storey viewing tower. Both of these structures lead to the museum, a dramatic curve that rises from the ground, emblazoned with one of Niemeyer’s famous drawings, as well as blocks of his signature colours, red and yellow. The museum’s monolithic proportions belie the fact that its exterior took just 24 hours to create by pumping concrete onto a PVC inflatable mould.

As awe-inspiring as Niemeyer’s work is, this is no voluptuously curved white elephant; the programme at the Centro Niemeyer is equally impressive. A committee dubbed the “C8” (C for culture) oversees the direction of exhibitions and includes representatives from venues such as the Centre Pompidou, Paris, La Scala, Milan, London’s Barbican and the Sydney Opera House. The inaugural show entitled La Luz is designed and curated by Spanish artist and filmmaker Carlos Saura, and is complemented by an ambitious series of screenings. Also scheduled are temporary residences from some of the world’s most inventive chefs at the restaurant at the top of the viewing tower. The Centro Niemeyer has it all – art, design, music, film and gastronomy – but, as its name suggests, it is the extraordinary architecture of Oscar Niemeyer that will put the Cento Niemeyer on the map.