Abstract Progress_04/12/12


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‘Reactivating Brasília:   [What will Brasília be like as a city in 2050?]

Lucio Costa’s utopian modernist vision for Brasília (1956-1960) was a grand scheme for an exciting time of political change within Brazil.  The rebuilding of Brazil’s capital city represented the ambitions and aspirations of a generation moving forward; however it was never able to accommodate the flocks of people who were to move there in search of work and a new life. The city became overwhelmed which resulted in numerous satellite towns positioning themselves on the periphery of the city connected to the centre by a monumental road network typical of the ­­­­ modernist era.


‘Today Brasilia stands as a monument to a modernist architectural vision, but critics are not wrong when they complain of its sterile and isolating atmosphere.’[1]


Brasília as a city continues to expand horizontally beyond its peripheries leaving vast open and disconnected areas within Costa’s urban city plan of centralised infrastructure and segregated zoning; absorbing the natural landscape and increasing the need to use vehicles to commute causing various environmental and health implications. These often unsafe ‘no man’s land’ areas need to be reactivated, not only to reduce urban sprawl and limit vehicle usage; but to increase the level of connectivity between people and strengthen the sense of community and identity within the capital city.


In order to reactivate these stagnant and sterile areas, the project proposes an urban intervention which introduces new forms of prototypical housing, mixed use facilities/ environments and public spaces, (concentrating on Costas’ monumental axis which has created an open division within the city). With the ultimate aim of increasing connectivity, inspiration from the Metabolists inform [1] a networked grid capable of adapting to growth to overlay over Costa’s original plan; negotiating with the existing built environment and UNESCO status to prepare a framework for the new [2] an increase in verticality across multiple datum levels, freeing up the ground plain for the introduction of a new kind of sensory public environment.


The prominent parameter focuses on proximities with the ambition of reducing the distances between the home, the workplace and cultural spaces to increase a sense of locale. This is reflected in the architecture of concentrated clusters (nodes) which are capable or growing/ merging/ relocating within the grid over time. The vast existing road network is manipulated across varying axis’ to accommodate new modes of inhabitation; to transform the circulatory experience around the city and to integrate ‘green’ modes of transportation.


Iconic of Brasília, the material of the proposal takes inspiration from Niemeyer’s dominant concrete built architecture; and rubber, a material substance native to Brazil and found in abundance. Rubber is explored as a fabric formwork of concrete to enable both standardisation and typological variation. The integrated tension of the inherently elastic material is exploited as well as the density in order to control the deformation of the formwork. Both rubber and concrete (and their material families) are explored as composite materials; with an emphasis placed on achieving tactile qualities; and porous outcomes which have the possibility to influence the natural lighting conditions of internal and/or covered spaces.

-           [1] A Brief History of Brazil, Teresa A. Meade, pg 156_’


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