Images of Brasilia 1966

Cesare Casati visits Brasilia after 8 years from its construction and writes about it on Domus, poised between observation and myth of modernity.

Originally published in Domus 434/January 1966


Much has already been written about Brazilia; pro and contra. This publication is intended really as a photographic record, and the comment no more than rapid notes. All Brazilia alive, all Brazilia 1966, with all its potential of development and self-destruction. This visit is a reflection on how a city, totally organised for modem man and for his progress, might live and function.

The impression which arrival at Brazilia makes might be analogous to what someone from the past might experience on arrival in one of our cities. There is an immediate impression of different dimension of space and time. The three hour flight (from Sao Paulo, a metropolis like many others) becomes a distance of 30 years. Suddenly you are faced with a single proposition, the modem one: on a huge scale al/d made up of very few repeated elements. No reference to traditional urban scenery appears, everything is unfamiliar. No squares, no avenues, no fountains, no railings, parks, colonnades, stairs. But motorways inside the city, gardens stretching between houses: a landscape in which an astronaut in his space suit would not seem out of place; and in which the out-of-date forms appear to be those of our motor cars, and of our clothes.
This change strikes us with violence. A violence of the kind which progress always appears to involve, finding us always unprepared: a sign that reality changes quicker than our abilily to absorb it.

In Brazilia 50 kilometers is "near": you say half an hour there as we say five minutes. To understand Brazilia YOt1 must appreciate the scale of Brazil, an enormous country (fourth largest in the world in terms of area), full of contradictions and potentialities, with only 80 million inhabitants (the forecasters ay it will double by 2,000), unexplored zones, most fertile soil and a culture in progress which has found its first outlet just in modem architecture. Brazilia is a most authentic expression of this Brazil.
The modernity of Brazilia is expressed in the first place through its town plan, totally based on vehicular traffic. […] The vehicular streets are connected with places of work or of leisure, while the pedestrian streets are always "internal" streets in the large residential districts, the "Super•Quadra", small cities inside the city. Here anyone might, within fifteen minutes of healthy walk, reach the services he needs […]. Within these "Super.Quadra", there are marvellous walks, almost country walks, without any of the usual hazards, through gardens, through a continuous architectural space, constantly changing. In Brazilia walking is a pleasure.
In the “Super Quadras”,  or residential quarters, some terraced one-family houses
which open on a large common lawn
In the “Super Quadras”, or residential quarters, some terraced one-family houses which open on a large common lawn
In the Plaza of the Three Powers, the
Palacio do Planalto, or Governement
Palace, houses the offices of the President
of the Republic
In the Plaza of the Three Powers, the Palacio do Planalto, or Governement Palace, houses the offices of the President of the Republic
The Alvorada, the President's home,
rises dear of the ground; its two
stories are gathered into a single huge
volume, between two horizontal
suspended slabs. Inside the building,
the first floor opens as a gallery on
two “golden” entrance hall
The Alvorada, the President's home, rises dear of the ground; its two stories are gathered into a single huge volume, between two horizontal suspended slabs. Inside the building, the first floor opens as a gallery on two “golden” entrance hall

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