Commissioned by President Juscelino Kubitschek, the construction of Brasilia lasted 41 months, from 1956 to the 21st April 1960, the day of its inauguration. Later declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the new federal capital of Brazil was designed on the plan of Lúcio Costa and under the supervision of Oscar Niemeyer, of which he was the chief architect and designer of most of the public buildings, assisted by Roberto Burle Marx, who was responsible for the design of public spaces.
Lúcio Costa, who won the competition for the urban plan of the capital, designed a plan for 200,000 inhabitants. In the project report, the Memória descritiva do Plano piloto, wrote that: “The construction of this city constitutes a deliberate act of taking possession, the gesture of the pionieer acting according to its colonial traditions and the question addressed to each participant in the competition is how such a city can be conceived. Such a city should not be thought of simply as an organic entity, able to function effortlessly, like any modern city; not as urbs, but as civitas, endowed with the virtues and characteristics of a capital city.”
The epic events of the Brazilian capital coincide with the baptism of Brazilian Modernism and remain intimately linked to the politics (and propaganda) of President Kubitschek, who narrated the construction of the new capital through the monthly magazine Brasília (1957-1963).
The creation of an imaginary around the Brazilian federal capital was part of the president’s political project, which has had and continues to have a strong influence today, in architecture and urban planning, as well as in the arts in general, and in the popular imagination.
In this special we remember it through Cesare Casati’s shots, and an important exhibition curated by Yuko Hasegawa in collaboration with Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa.
Opening image: photo by Iwan Baan.