Brasilia: A great machine to live or a made Utopia of reality? [I] | Cristina García-Rosales
The ideal cities of the past.
We start by doing a brief tour for the past, for different ideal cities – constructed or not-, to be able to understand better the origin and the contradictions of Brasilia. Let’s go, first, to the Classic Greece where already Plato and Aristotle, each one to his way, had his particular conception of the ideal city. The first one was thinking that the space determines the life of the persons who live it whereas, for the second one, the space is independent from the activities that it contains. His Utopian respective cities, they belong to the territory of the thought and in his reflections a philosophical intention becomes clear more than architectural, on not having tried to delineate projects edificables. Both depart from cities created beyond a mere divine intuition, establishing that the citizen has to be the fundamental local priority where it is going to live, to work, to rest, to relate and take part in the community.
The platonic city has, on the paper, a community and social form thanks to the use of the numbers and of the geometry. It was designed by the philosopher in circular form. From the center, where the temple and the ágora are, there are born radialmente the streets in which the different areas are distributed equitably. This forces that the division of the space makes to itself one with the concept of property, equally equitable according to the platonic concept.
Aristotle understands the “polis”” as a cultural entity and not in formal terms. And he it considers the human being to be a social subject. What makes the individual deserving of the citizen’s title is not so much the fact of living in a certain place, if not the use of the word when it takes part in the assembly, and for ende in the government of the city. This participation only is allowed to the native and free males, excluding the slaves, women and foreigners. It justifies, such an open to criticism exclusion, affirming that the social hierarchies perform necessary for the common good that prefers always to the particular good.
In the Renaissance the eyes turn towards Plato and the classic ones. Filarete realizes the design – not constructed but yes origin of many defensive later cities – of Sforzinda’s ideal city, gathered nothing less than in twenty-five volumes. His imaginary city is designed in the shape of star of eight tops and inscribed in an exterior circular pit. The order and the geometry are opposed to the chaos and to the motley of the medieval cities. Filarete compares Sforzinda with the human body and believes that it must work as a community organism, to adjust to the desires and to the happiness of his inhabitants. His buildings must expire with three Vitrubio’s essential values: firmness, beauty and usefulness (firmitas, venustas and utilitas). In the downtown the church and the market place. The commercial exchange of goods has substituted the participation asamblearia of the Greeks, though the divine power remains across the church.
We cannot stop mentioning Amaurota’s city, in the island of Utopia, of the Englishman Tomas Moro. A walled city placed in the hillside of a hill, bathed by two rivers, with elegant and clean buildings which anyone might enter. All the housings possess elegant gardens neatly, ” with so much conscientiousness that I have never seen anything similar in beauty and fertility, ” Moor was writing. Nothing is considered to be private, the housings are exchanged once every ten years, the classes have been abolished as well as the power of the money, though the servants persist, and the women are those who take charge of show restraint communal. The classic one inside the ideal cities, example of well-being and perfection and, certainly, immersed inside the contradictions of his time.
In the Illustration a great uncertainty exists on the way to continuing. What seems to be clear is that the previous thing already is not valid. Nothing more explicit of the state of mind of this epoch, that the exclamation of the Hyperion de Hölderlin: ” we are not at all. What we look it is quite “. Ledoux together with Boullé and Piranessi, is the visionary architects of the future, anticipating it in his ideas and drawings. Ledoux like that, in his ideal city constructed in Chaux’s Salt mines, factory in turn of extraction of salt, tries to link the force of the nature with the creative genius of the individual, following Rousseau’s educations. The city has semicircular form of 370 m. Of diameter, with the house of the director in the center of the set. This house possesses a great fronton in the shape of peristyle, there being imposed this way the establishment of an order and of a hierarchy. Around, the houses of the workers, placed in the limit that separates them from the field. And more nearby still to the nature, the buildings of common use, of meeting and of trade. The idea was to arrange the leisure, the development of the morality and the division of the work. It includes also the technical facilities of extraction of salt and a series of channels that distribute it on the outside. A city that did not manage to finish – in the beginning of the French Revolution – which aim was that the workers could work, be happy and to harmonize his life with the environment. Always controlled, it yes. Definitively, Ledoux was wishing a better city for a better, still paternalistic and hierarchic company. Chaux was partly precursor of falanasterios of 19th century, still without the notion of the Utopian socialism, term coined by Engels.
The falanasterios were rural communes designed by the imaginative Fourier, at which one would be employed of playful and attractive form and the earnings they would be shared between all. Before Fourier had realized a merciless critique of the company in which it was living and, specially, of his economy. The fundamental thing of the falanasterios was that every individual could work in agreement with his preferences without a clear concept of property exist. Everything was regulated, even the behavior of the citizens, including the relations of family, the love and the sex. And the planes of the set designed up to the last detail. Quite thought for a life to be lived by the major one of the pleasures, the women liberated of his desigualdades and emancipated, question all of them very advanced for the epoch. It was holding that between the persons there existed a force of “passional attraction”, something like source of harmony, force capable of transforming the work of the employees into something agreeable. It never managed to construct his commune or ideal city, always to the wait of the financing of any philanthropist, though later to his death, there carried out any models who did not manage to work. Robert Owen, his contemporary, on the other hand yes could found New Harmony in the United States, directing all his effort the improvement of the habitat (the city I shape in the middle of green spaces), the reduction of the working hours of the workers and his obligatory education. An ideal, hygienic, tidy and formative model based on small semi-rural communities related between yes.
We have approached a bit some of the most important ideal, constructed cities or not, along the history of the western civilization. Many elements exist jointly: a planning tidy and near to the nature, almost always following the rules of the symmetry, the establishment of social classes, I respect to the citizen and to his form of life as well as a desire of well-being and of happiness. They depart from a radical critique, not always explicit, from the company in the one that is unrolled, from the city in which they live and of the priorities established for the development of the person. They praise an understood humanism almost always inside the religion and a hierarchic and social scale.
Cristina García-Rosales. Architect
Madrid. april 2012