Brasilia - Oscar Niemeyer
Ivan Leung (09032220), Sarah Ng (09032260), Kitti Wong (09083490)
WHAT’S THE PURPOSE OF BRASILIA?
1. To serve to open the uninhabitated center of Brazil to new develpment
2. To relieve the pressure of overpopulation from the old capital Rio de Janeiro
3. To Create a renewed sense of national pride. A Completely moderm 21st Century city
- Brasilia, Brazil. Federal District under President Juscelino Kubitschek
- 2245 sq. mile (5814 sq. km) of sparsely inhabited Planalto Central
- 1956 Lucio Costa Brazilian urban planner wins competition
- major goverment buildings designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer
- landscape and layout planned by designer Roberto Burle
- 1956-1961. Inaugurated on 21 April 1960
- 1987 UNESCO declares Brasilia part of the world heritage
-Planned for only 500,000 inhabitants, Due to massive population growth, several satellite
towns have been created over the years to house the extra inhabitants.
- Currently there are 2,557,000 inhabitants
PLANNER’S VISION OF AN IDEAL CITY
- Well-ventilated residences near green spaces
- The separation of residences from workplaces, with industries excluded from the city proper
- Exclusive space for cultural activities, near residencies
- The separation of the circulation of vehicles and pedestrians
DESIGN APPROACH OF LUCIO COSTA
Costa designed the city in four scales of design:
1. A monumental scale,
2. A residential scale,
3. A gregarious (or social) scale, and
4. A bucolic scale.
Costa adopted the pilot plan for Brasilia to conform to Le Corbusier’s Letter of
The monumental scale:
The monumental scale was intended to provide Brasília with the dignity of a capital
1.1 - Brasilia has two axes crossing at right-angles; the Monumental Axis (the
fusilage of the “airplane”) intersecting in the center of the city with a Residential Axis
(the wings of an airplane)(Fig. 1).
1.2 - To adapt this sign to the local topography, the natural drainage of the area, one
of the axes was curved in order to make it fit into the equilateral triangle which limits
the urbanized area (Fig. 2)
The residential scale:
2.1 - The Monumental Axis comprises of the Esplanade, where the
ministries and public buildings, the Cathedral, and the Plaza of Three
Powers are located.
2.2 - Along the curved axis, the bulk of the residential districts have
been placed (Fig. 3).
2.3 - The residential district is composed of superblocks with sides of
280m long. The spaces between them were intended for collective use
and commerical buildings, making up a “interquadras”.
2.4 - Orderly blocks has a uniform height of six stories rasied on pilotis,
no high rises, and each floor is designed for 6 to 10 apartments,
planning to create a lower population density.
2.5 - Vast motorways linking the superblocks provide an excellent
transportation system with the elimination of intersections and therefore
traffic jams. The superblocks also had ample parking for vehicles.
2.6 - The garden-like setting superblock is surrounded by a 20m wide
greenbelt, planted with rows of trees.
The gregarious (or social) scale:
3.1 - Along the transverse axis administrative centers, entertainment centers and facilities,
the railway station, infrastructure are placed making up the monumental axis of the system.
3.2 - Alongside the intersection of the axes, the banking and commercial districts have
been placed and sufficient areas set aside for retail trade.
3.3 - At the intersection of the axes, the entertainment center for the city, with the cinemas,
theatres, restaurants have been placed. A broad platform was created on a lower level
where only parking and local traffic would be permitted. (Fig. 5).
3.4 -The lower ground level under the platform, most of
this covered area is used for parking, and the inter-urban
bus station has been placed there and is accessible to
passengers from the upper level of the platform (Fig. 6).
3.5 - The lower level crossings, automobiles and buses
circulate both in the central and the residential districts
without any intersections.
3.6 - For heavy vehicular traffic a secondary independent
road system was established, but without crossing or
interfering with the main system. This secondary system
has access to the buildings of the commercial district at
basement level, goes around the civic center on the lower
plane, and is reached through galleries at ground level
The bucolic scale:
4.1 - Costa’s intent for Brasília to be a city of parks, where more densely populated
areas were separated by vast green spaces and parks.
THE PROS of living in a ‘Superquadra’ from a Resident’s perspective
- The city is not threatened by any kind of natural disaster
- Minimal to virtually no air pollution
- Large areas of greenery
- Financial stability
- Home ownership
- Communal amnenities such as cinemas, theatres and clubs
- Viable roads prone to no traffic
- Reduce risks of physical safety due to traffic arrangements
Brasilia has the essense of garden-city setting, the careful planning allows residents
to transcend the local character of their own superquadra and swiftly access any
other place in the city, for work or leisure. This has resulted in many to choose to
remain within Brasilia due to better living conditions.
- Housing prices are very high, compared to other Brazilian cities
- Public transportation is inefficient. The urban bus system has a lot of deficiencies;
the construction of Brasilia’s subway is going slowly because of funds shortage. As a
consequence, most of the people who have cars commute by car
- Foreigners usually dislike that only few people are to be found on the streets, and
the great distances between the buildings
- The newer satellite towns have very few green areas, unlike some other satellite
towns and the Pilot Plan itself
- Many of the famous buildings are aesthestically pleasing but not functional
- Lack of comminication between citizens due to vast open space.
- There are few people on the streets
- The empty open space is like wastelands.
- Large distance between building blocks, non-human scale.
- People have to rely on cars for transportation, not in favor to the poorer residents
- Highways are fast speed mediums with no traffic lights
- Well zoned districts based on functions neglect functional spaces for citizens to use
CRITIQUE FROM SCHOLARS
- Based on a spatial utopia rather than considering its conditions of daily life.
- The poor population are not well housed. (A simple transfer of a capital, urbanism fails
to resolve the ills of a hundred-year-old social and economic reality)
- Spaces leave individuals alienated, oppressed or subject to some form of spatial
- Misreading the neighbourhood unit as an island - Kevin Lynch
- Fails to recognize that a city without the traditional street or street corner can have
viable public spaces and that socail ecologies can easilt adapt to unprecedented urban
forms. - James Holston
- Fixates on how Corbusean Brasilia is by comparing Corbusier’s apartment buildings a
redent with those of the superquadra, without recognizing a crucial difference in scale
-Only purpose for being has always been its symbolism, never intended to function
towards the efficient transit between work and residence, or towards the rational zoning
of services. It is the re-centering of the state, representing the re-ordering of the nation.
The industry of Brazil thrown into high gear in order to achieve velocities unprecedented
in Brazil’s history - Justin Read
Question: Would you consider building Brasilia again?
“ Yes... the city has become ugly, no uniformity, there is no beauty in the new satillite
town. The people that live there are poor but that is not a question of good/bad
architecture. That is a question of politics”
- Oscar Niemeyer