Posted August 03, 2011 in: Travel
The city was planned and developed in 1956 with Lúcio Costa as the principal urban planner and Oscar Niemeyer as the principal architect. President Juscelino Kubitschek ordered the construction of Brasília, fulfilling an article of the country’s constitution dating back to 1891 stating that the capital should be moved from Rio de Janeiro to a place close to the center of the country to help populate that area. The city was built in only four years. On April 22 of 1960, it formally became Brazil’s national capital. The public sector is by far the largest employer, accounting for around 40% of the city jobs. Government jobs include all levels, from the federal police to diplomacy, from the transportation bureau to the armed forces. Salaries in Brazilia far outpace those of Rio. The Federal District has the largest GDP per capita income of Brazil.
The city is full of modernist architecture, much of it the work of Niemeyer. He designed buildings, furniture, cathedrals, and works of art. I thought his chairs were interesting, but we had trouble getting out of them without tipping them over.
Niemeyer?s Justice department building is suspended from the star-shaped structure on top.
The entry levels are elegant.
But the exteriors are pretty ordinary.
The Juscelino Kubitschek bridge, also known as the ‘JK Bridge’, was spectacular. It crosses Lake Paranoá. It won the Gustav Lindenthal Medal due to “...outstanding achievement demonstrating harmony with the environment, aesthetic merit and successful community participation”.
The Cathedral of Brazilia was also designed by Oscar Niemeyer. It is a concrete-framed structure with its glass roof reaching up, open, to the heavens.
An angel ?flies? through the interior of the cathedral.
Churches in Brazilia were very different from what one usually sees on a trip abroad. Because the climate is mild, many use extensive swaths of stained glass. The Dom Brosco Sanctuary is a good example. The interior is composed almost entirely of individual openable, blue-glass jalousie windows.
We had the opportunity to tour another of the federal buildings. It had a fantastic interior staircase, a garden on the ground level, and a roof-top garden.
Brazilia was interesting, but Washington D.C. has more character. Having been built all at once over a four-year period has resulted in everything seeming a bit out-dated and static. Perhaps, as Brazil continues its economic growth, Brazilia will grow as well and its character will become more varied and complex.
Our next stop on our journey is Manaus. Colonial rubber capital of Brazil and the gateway to the Amazon.