big ideas in architecture and the effects of user adaptation
Interesting project for sure. I’m a master’s student in Urban & Regional Planning at the University of Florida, and spent a couple of months in Brazil last year. I’m also a fan of early and mid-century modernist architecture, but not a fan of the city planning of the same era.
At the end of my trip I included a couple of days in Brasilia – a place every planner should be interested in, and hopefully visit. As a kid I read an old National Geographic article on the city plan, and I’d wager that is one of the moments that informs my enthusiasm for the subject.
I have never been more disappointed. Many of the buildings have seen far better days. Chunks of glass are missing from the cathedral’s windows, the forecourts are broken, and the giant fountains in front of the elegant TV tower a sad mess. The TV tower itself is consumed at its bottom by a retail favela – an embarrassing collection of tacky booths and whatnot – that seem sadly necessary due to the remoteness of the tower and the lack of nearby amenities.
The city is full of brilliant individual structures, yet the city itself is a gigantic failure for the individual. I look forward to your comments.
Suggestion for you to explore there: Check out the spaces between the Ministry buildings at lunch time. There seems to be a total lack of food service near these buildings – so the market is providing for the demand. Dozens of vendors set up there each day to fill the gap left by the strict division of land uses.
Looks like an amazing trip!
thank you for your interest and suggestions! i am also excited to go to brasilia, but expecting to see a poorly functioning city. one major issue i see with it is the fact that the city was preserved by its unesco world heritage site status, which has placed a lock on the city’s potential for change….the city is now a monument to the planning ideas of a particular moment, and not an evolving place.
however, i hope to find and document small things that are being done to make this monument work…thing like the markets for food, or additions/enclosures on buildings to allow them to fit new needs. Especially interesting, i think, are the creative ways that de facto land uses have filtered into and mixed up the mandated divisions. My guess is that these things are happening mostly at an informal level, but perhaps they have begun to influence, even slightly, the way that brasilia operates.
i’ll be in brasilia around november…if all goes according to plan!
November will be summer and very hot! I’m from Florida and got fried in July.
I stayed in Hotel Sector South and, as an experiment, made myself experience the monumental axis as a pedestrian. Make sure you have a good hat, and lots of sunscreen and water if you go out on foot.
I stumbled upon your blog when doing a quick search for how Brasilia is aging and was pleasantly surprised by your thesis!
I’m also a grad student studying architecture (Washington University in STL) that will be in Brasilia in November. Best of luck with your research!
fantastic! thanks for your comment….i believe i will be in brasilia during the first two weeks of november. if you are around then, we could meet. i would love to hear what you are working on there.
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