The present paper is concerned with the study of urban landscape as culture. It is part of a broader research focusing on the design of a public open space, which was the first city square created in Rio de Janeiro in the 16th century. The city center has been through many drastic reforms along its history. The preservation of buildings isolated from their historical context has produced numerous voids resulting in the lack of identity in the landscape and the loss of urban vitality in significant public open spaces. Through computer aided design, different historical moments of the square and its surroundings have been reconstituted in order to understand these changes and what were the cultural values behind official plans.