Brasilia

With a sense of optimism and vision, a new city was made possible in the middle of Brazil.

Chamber of Deputies and National Congress buildings, Eixo Monumental, Brasilia.© Monica Pidgeon / RIBA Library Photographs Collection

Work to build Brazil’s utopian, purpose-built capital Brasilia began in 1956. The aim was to invigorate the centre of the country and engender a renewed sense of national pride. To design a forward-looking city, without the cultural restraints of existing structures, was a Modernist’s dream and Oscar Niemeyer grasped the chance, recruiting Lucio Costa as urban planner.

Costa’s bird-like plan, consisting of two vast intersecting axes, represents the cross erected by Brazil’s pioneers to symbolise the birth of a new civilisation. Niemeyer’s buildings are among his most emblematic, the juxtaposition of alien volumes with tracts of empty space producing a strange yet monumental landscape. 

Article by Justine Sambrook, C urator, Robert Elwall Photographs Collection, British Architectural Library , RIBA

Metropolitan Cathedral under construction, Eixo Monumental, Brasilia. © RIBA Library Photographs Collection National Congress buildings, Eixo Monumental, Brasilia: the Chamber of Deputies and the Towers of Congress.  © RIBA Library Photographs Collection Chamber of Deputies and National Congress buildings, Eixo Monumental, Brasilia.© Monica Pidgeon / RIBA Library Photographs Collection
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