Brasilia: A great machine to live or a made Utopia of reality? [III] | Cristina García-Rosales

Brasilia: a great machine to live or a made Utopia of reality? [II] | Cristina García-Rosales

The 20th century and the Modern Movement

What did happen with the arrival of the 20th century? The need to implant a formula hygienist and humanist inside an igalitarian concept of bottom, especially, from the end of the guerras mundial, did that architects and town planners had the zeal to begin from the beginning, – among other things other things had to reconstruct the demolished thing – and they were meeting in different International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) between 1929 and 1941.

They needed to establish the bases to transform the way of living the cities, where the citizens, before and during the wars, were packed in lugubrious rooms inside slightly drafty buildings, without hygienic services and with scanty natural light. Cities that were lacking parks and woodland and which inhabitants were suffering the devastations of numerous diseases due to the dirt of the environment and the shortage of urban infrastructures. I speak about the so called ” industrial city “, polucionada and unhealthy that was making urgent the creation of a new city for a human new being. There established then the postulates of the ” Letter of Athens ” (1933) in the Congress IV of the CIAM, signed, between others, for Le Corbusier that later used them for his ideal city ” The Ville Radieux “. Are here his basic aims:

– Drafty well and sunny residences near to the green spaces. (TO (LIVE)

– Separation of the housings of the places of work, with the industries placed out of the city. Exclusive space (WORKS)

– For the cultural activities. (TO CULTIVATE THE BODY AND THE SPIRIT)

– Separation of the traffic of vehicles of that of the pedestrians. (TO (CIRCULATE).

There were included the requirements that were studied in this crucial moment: the minimal unit of room, the hygienic and inhabitable standards, the construction based on piles and concrete, the crossed ventilation, the utilization of the glass, the straight line and without ornaments, the use of the flat roofs and the creation of top spaces with vegetation, the front and the free plant, the slanted window, the brise soleil or parasol, the implantation of gardens and woodland inside the city or the strict separation of functions (residence, work and leisure). As for the planning, this one began to be freer of according to ” spirit modern of epoch “.

It seemed that a new age began, it fills completely of ideas, of creative spirit and of synthesis, far from the aberrations of the previous cities. 

“A great epoch has just begun”, 

Le Corbusier it was proclaiming.

But as everything what begins with this pressing need to depart from zero, it had big failures. One of them was to do level table with the “antiquated” models of the cities of the past which elements must be annulled completely. An excessively compact planning that would not allow later variations, a strict division of functions inside the city and the understanding of the streets as “a way very trodden by the eternal wayfarer, a relic of the centuries or a dismantled organ that cannot work” and his substitution for the garden Englishman, they are excessively rigid concepts to plan a city, an alive organism in constant development and improvement, in spite of his conflicts and inevitable tensions.

Of this amalgam of contradictions that join present, past and future, there is born Brasilia, to which André Malraux calls “the city of the hope”. And it is born with a political important desire: to manage to be an ideal city according to the Social-Democratic, igalitarian and free beginning of the moment. And without social classes. In addition it must shelter to the headquarters of the Federal Government, till then in Rio de Janeiro. It was really a hope and a key stimulus for the development of a new Latin-American country, since it it was Brazil, freed in 1822, with a considerable index of underdevelopment and of poverty but with a creative, sensual and sweeping capacity that anyone who has visited the country can confirm.

Illustrative schemes drawn to hand lifted of Lucio Costa

The enormous extensions of area in the interior, where one was going to seat the new city, would achieve that the country ” stops looking fascinated at the sea, as if it was always on the verge of making a trip “, according to the words of the President of the Republic and maker of the idea, Juscelino Kubitschek. When in 1956 it gained the choices it wanted that his presidential period was differing for a public very special work. And go if it obtained it! He would construct Brasilia, the dreamed city and it would do it in a record tempo of less than 5 years. The capital in the center of the territory, in the zone of the Federal District, inside a special called Closed ecosystem, similar to the sheet. The capital that he would contribute to the development of the regions interior virgins who during so much time had worried Brazil.

The chosen place: an altiplane softly waved in Goiás’s condition. The equipment of planning was at the expense of Lucio Costa, winner of the contest of ideas summoned, thanks to his illustrative schemes drawn to lifted hand and to his exemplary explanatory memory, to which later we will return. The principal constructions were chargeable to the creative genius of Oscar Niemeyer, as well as the supervision of the design of rest of the buildings. The public spaces and gardens were a work of the landscape painter Roberto Burle-Marx. The three, Brazilian architects. It was, without any doubt, the opportunity so much time longed by the town planners and architects of all the epochs of real made a Utopian dream.

Sketch of Casa do Baile de Niemeyer in Pampulha

In the years previous to this important decision, Brazil had developed keenly his new architecture. Buildings had projected and constructed in Rio de Janeiro (the Department of Education and Health, which authors were the architects Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, in consultation with Le Corbusier), Sao Paolo and Pampulha (the wavy and rhythmic Casa do Baile by Niemeyer) continuing the directives of the Modern Movement and of the forefronts. Corbusier had visited the country in several occasions to give conferences. And Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, was taking pleasure with the original way that the Brazilians had of adapting the new international forms to the climate and to the vernacular customs, though also it had those who corrected them of excessively formalist.

In 1942 the Museum of Modern Art of New York organized an exhibition gathered in the bookBrazil Builds, which consolidates and stimulates the reputation of the Brazilian architecture. We are so inside a very favorable climate in order that the last trends of planning develop in the new capital, with a new concept of urban environment and of architecture, of difficult adjustment to the already existing cities.

Cristina García-Rosales. Architect

Madrid. Abril 2012

Brasilia: a great machine to live or a made Utopia of reality? [IV] | Cristina García-Rosales

Cristina García-Rosales

Soy arquitecta (1980). Mis proyectos son muy diversos. En 1995 fundo el grupo La Mujer Construye, en el que ocupo la Presidencia. 

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