Brasilia is…

A city that Colin Rowe (Collage City) defines a city like Brasilia as an anticipatory city of isolated objects and continuous voids, the alleged city of freedom and ‘universal’ society will not be made to go away and if, perhaps in its essentials, it is more valuable than its dis-creditors can allow, if, while it is felt to be ‘good’, nobody seems to like it, the problem remains: what to try to do with it?

Brasília was a failure in many ways. The city did not turn out the way the planners intended and is not thought of very highly by either its own inhabitants or other Brazilians. The construction of the city produced a debt of over 2 billion dollars. Massive inflation in the 1960’s, fueled by the proliferation of paper money, gave the military a good reason to take over the government and ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985.

Brasília is widely known as the “three day city” (Brunn and Williams, 1993), as many of its wealthier workers spend only Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday working in Brasília, and then jet to the more social cities like Rio and Sao Paulo for extended weekends. This only furthers the view of Brasília as an unpopular city.

Brasilia is full of open space. There seem to be playing fields and parks everywhere. The planners seem to have accomplished what some might call an impossible task — a livable, walk able, drivable city.

My interest in the nature of the streets was sparked some time ago by James Holston’s absorbing study, The modernist city: an anthropological critique of Brasilia, published in 1989. Holston offers a devastating critique of the plano piloto, the master-plan, which I would love to quote more fully than I have time for. Essentially in the plan, he claimed, ‘the street itself had been architecturally denied and remains legally proscribed.’ Nowhere, he says, did the word ‘street’ appear in the plan. Each of the commercial sectors that alternate with the large residential blocks had a ‘via de acesso motorizado,’ a motorized service way. These ‘anti-streets’ served to dismantle the traditional urban market ‘by reordering relations of commerce and residence, pedestrians and transport.’ The theory is a clear example of modernism promoting space without sociability.

Holston argues that the design of Brasilia ‘accomplishes a radical functional differentiation of commercial space and thereby of exchange: streets have become entirely identified with the functions of transport and supply.’ Then he goes on to document how ‘the first inhabitants of Brasilia’s superquadras simply rejected the anti-street because it contradicted social practice.’ The early settlers came mostly from urban Brazil and started to convert the service backs into store fronts, thus reversing the design. ‘As a result, habit reproduced the street in practice where it had been architecturally denied.’

‘The signs of the popular street reappeared: mixed up functions (cars and people), uncoordinated signs, colors, and displays, window-shopping, sidewalk socializing, loitering, and even littering. The riot of urban codes’ Holston writes triumphantly, ‘reasserted itself in spite of the best attempts yet devised to prevent it.’

I have no doubt from what I saw, that the process identified by Holston in the 1980s has simply gathered pace. I stopped to chat to three young ladies who run a hair salon in back of one of the service blocks. People were powering around this apparently ‘hidden’ part of the neighborhood from all sides. They told me that they have clients who come from fifteen minutes’ drive away, a lot from the commercial sector round the corner and many of course from the neighborhood which their property is facing. I turned to look at it, and subsequently saw several like it. People have high quality apartments, green space, trees, shade, places to stop and chat. In several places they look like the campus of a new university. The blocks are on stilts so folk pass through readily. The geometries of movement are hardly constrained.

Brasilia as a city was never finished and remains in a state of evolution rather than decline. Brasilia’s development will be analyzed in the light of postcolonial discourse as a means to  engage critically with issues regarding Brazilian identities and to bring to the fore some political questions that are intrinsically connected with the built environment which have been usually overlooked

Rethinking the informal city: critical perspectives from Latin America

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Brasilia and Automobiles

Brasilia is probably the only city that employs am expressway as the central feature of its residential areas. This represents an unabashed expression of the importance of the automobile in contemporary life. At the same time the city offers for pedestrian a number of areas that are totally removed from vehicular traffic

The highways in Brasilia have come to its own as an architectural work and are an integral element in civic design. The building is an extension of the expressway structure and is indivisible from it, every part of it relating to the design of the city as a whole.



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Brasilia’s Carnaval in Pictures

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The Success of the Contemporary Scene

We are in the best surf culture event of Brasilia, this is the eleventh edition of the International Festival of Contemporary Theatre scene that provided the public Brasilia on 24 August to 5 September cultural immersion for 13 days with a lineup that included theatrical productions of Brasilia, Brazil and the world.

In addition to the theatrical event provided a meeting between directors of performing arts and music with the extensive lineup of Meeting Point, space available at the Museum of the Republic as the aim of exchanging experiences and fellowship.

This edition confirms the importance of Contemporary Scene in the setting of culture and Brasilia in Brazil. The event moves to the city and encourages those interested in theater to leave home and occupy several rooms, halls and rooms where the proposals, experiences, plays, performances and everything else that refers to several forms of expression that the arts possible. This year showed an embryo of a more open proposal that was generous enough to understand and receive the Republic Museum and alternative spaces that are independent productions of opera or concert halls for their achievement. This applies to the excellent performance of William Lopes that goes up and down the smooth skin of the building of the Ministry of Sports to warn the viewer that his life may be reduced to a drag dressed in suit and tie (or suit and high heels). The actor-acrobat-athlete goes down the wall supported by two steel cables while the audience watches the show lying on the sidewalk. He is wearing a suit, tie and briefcase. It seems smothered in his armor of bureaucrats. Think of suicide? It is likely, but the character finds a way out before the abyss. He goes tearing off her clothes, a suit sleeve, the other to the front to back, one pant leg, the other. Free housing, he will experiencing flights, jumps, twirls.

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Police and Parkour

The potential tactical Parkour, is now used by police.

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The jewel and the poet

In an interview to a journalist writing Ezio Pires, in 1966, the poet Manuel Bandeira said: “Brasilia is a jewel, it is still a city. Do not live in a jewel. But time and life, with its indispensable impurities, will undertake to become the jewel in the city. ”

Impurities are there, even the dispensable, but without them Brazil remains the island surrounded by Brazil’s Tattoo on all sides. The poet recognized how valuable the new capital, but also realized that was not enough to be a beautiful city, not having been designed or approved for tender. He also noted it was not enough that their buildings were works of a great artist of the architecture. It was necessary that she be defiled, otherwise it would not truly a city.

Those who, during the early years, lived on the jewel are saddened by the Disorderly City now. Have the reasons of the heart. It was a privilege to live in a piece of jewelry. But it turned out. I had not taken note of that comment of Manuel when, earlier this week, I made a thorough tour of the neighborhood shopping Mall, the expansion of the North Lake. The movement of cars in narrow streets, garages, shops stuck to each other, the apartment buildings non-standard, the set reminded me of the areas of trade in satellite towns, the intense movement of the Riacho Fundo, new buildings the Guara.

Any resident of North Lake will feel diminished in your equity account for this comparison, but it brings with it a compliment. The aesthetic distance between new areas of the Pilot Plan and the satellite towns is not so great, either because the rise of classes C and D is shrinking distances, or because the architecture is standardized, which is unfortunate, it is because the impurities Brasilia are turning in one city. Impurities are breaking the wall that separates the master plan the rest of the square.

Fern now has a condominium with pool. Fern, Wansbeck, Guara, Ceilândia have gorgeous houses of middle-class medium-high. Expressways, is a terrible and stimulate anti-ecological dependence on cars, coming and coming democratize the nation’s capital. The economic prosperity that the experience served to contaminate Brazil Brasilia with impurities of a big city.

It would only make an exception to the poet. The master plan remains a gem.Keeps the essential features of the project by Costa highlighted the disrespect to tipping. The sculpture stands in the urban savannah, despite the inroads stilts, the turmoil of the commercial, hand truculent real estate speculation, District Council, the last rulers of emerging sectors where they want to continue emerging.

Oscar Lucio and so firmly staked its creation as anyone can, without difficulty, recognize the model within the metropolis. The jewel not only survived the impurities, as was better with them, even if the concentration of income continue eroding the precious stone inside and out.

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