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

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

Crossed by some Niemeyer’s buildings.

Let’s be going to do now a short tour for the most out-standing buildings, as if we were in Brasilia visiting the city and we had access to enter them. Planned buildings all for the architect Niemeyer. I think the city of Brasilia it is not possible to understand but we know more thoroughly, some of his out-standing pieces, which have turned in paradigmatic inside the modern architecture, aesthetically speaking.

Niemeyer did not try to change the course of the company. He understood the architecture as a plastic art and to the architect as creator of forms. He believed that they were the engineers those who have to of taking charge of the efficiency, the functionality or the economy. For it, Corbusier was approaching more the poetical side of Him and not so much his practical and functional side. His revolution is an aesthetic revolution, of forms and of materials, specially in the use of the reinforced concrete, which was allowing him to make demolish his imagination based on figures and you structure before impossible to construct.

Interior of the Cathedral of Brasilia

The Cathedral is going to be our first visit placed in the Monumental Axis. In her Niemeyer reconciles the theatricality and the poetical local sense in an alone piece. Actually, a sculptural object projects, which definitively it does in all his buildings, with a structure that challenging bud of the land, full of spiritual symbolism since it happened in the Gothic cathedrals. 16 nerves of concrete of section hiperboloide and the walls of crystal forming windows, in which it predominates over the blue color, they combine creating a species of tropical flower that is opened towards the sky. The rest of the set, besides the principal circular sanctuary, constitutes it an underground baptistry connected across a tunnel, as well as a belfry that points at the high thing over the crown that finishes off the building.

Maybe the most significant of the monument is his structure based on nerves of concrete, which does honor to the words of the architect:

“when the structure is mounted, the building can give finished”.

But also there is important the underground access to the Church, which plunges the underground visitor then to make him to emerge towards the great central space replete with light. It reveals, partly, the conception of Neimeyer’s architecture, understood almost like on a form of redemption. It will not be able change surely to the company but yes transport those that they suffer, across the beauty, towards a high kingdom of spiritual transcendency.

Palace of the Alvorada in Brasilia, 1960 | Photography: Marcel Gautherot

The Palace of the Alvorada or of the Dawn, residence in his moment of the president Kubitschek, is going to be our second visit. Far from the Monumental Axis, we are now on the banks of a peninsula on the lake Paranoá, an idyllic place where yergue the presidential, impressive building in his conception, and one of the first constructions that were finished together with the nearby Hotel Palace.

The building underlines the importance of the presidential initiative, origin of the new city. It was the own Kubitschek who put the name to the building, a real contemporary palace.

“What another thing might be Brasilia for the country, that the dawn of a new day? “,

Kubitschek was saying.

Niemeyer creates the piece as a box of crystal framed by a great marquee or eaves. This one is finished off across an opened gallery, with a curvilinear colonnade parallel to the front, which is reflected in the waters of the lake and suggests the illusion of supporting the building on parabolic arches. Again the structure, enormous and majestic, grants sense and lightness to the set, obtaining the perfect one symbiosis between the form and the structure. The building, magnificent in his exterior, is alike a spaceship that had settled softly on the land. The result is so ethereal that it seems that the construction was floating.

The interior, of 7000 m2, is the antithesis of what one sees externally and the own Zevi criticized it for his excess of formalism. Designed with luxurious profusion for the daughter of Niemeyer, it uses mirrors, coatings of marble and metallic panels that reinforce the perspectives, ramps, galleries and other spaces that are articulated by very expensive materials and of brilliant surfaces. In adjacent buildings they find a chapel and a heliport.

Planalto or de la Meseta Palace

Whereas the Palace of the Alvorada is isolated of the monumental part, separating the life deprived of the President, of the public one, the Palace of Planalto or of the Plateau, which later we will visit, is integrated to the most symbolic set of the city: the Plaza of three Power. It is the place of work of the Presidency of the Nation.

In this building, again the structure is the principal protagonist. Separating of the rectangular building, the gigantic buttresses that support the eaves, they are perpendicular to the front and not parallel as in case of the Palace of the Dawn. They accentuate, across his delicate form, the box of crystal and of concrete that, raised of the soil, surround it for his two major sides. The perception of the sky – wonderful in Brasilia to the late afternoon – and of the clouds, across the gallery porticada, as well as of the rest of the square, fuses with the building. Niemeyer manipulated these angles of vision in order that different conference of the Palaces that form the set were reinforcing his balance thanks to subtle variations on a large scale.

It is necessary to emphasize the perron of presidential access, placed in one of the long sides, symbol of democracy and progress. The monumental sculptures that make a detour to the Palace and to the rest of the Plaza, contrast with the surrounding planitud, grant to the set a more near scale – what already of for yes is difficult – and serve to frame the architectural pieces. The palace has four floors of height and a total surface of 36.000 m2. We are speaking about a great container used for the Government of the Nation.

Congress and Senate in Brasilia

Let´s go now to visiting the National Congress, near the previous one or, at least, placed in the same Plaza of Three Power, to finish our visit with the Cultural Complex of the Republic. I do not claim that we cross all the buildings, leaving this in order that the possible reader does it in a date that he wishes.

The National, bicameral Congress, it is composed by the Senate (High Chamber) and the Assembly (Lower house).

The contrasts between the curved and straight lines and between the simple, rectangular, concave and convex volumes, they are in the base of the design of this set. The administrative buildings it form two towers of 28 plants each one, that they relate between yes forming a H, letter for which the words begin Man, Honor and Honesty. To both sides, though advanced, there are the semispheres that they contain to both chambers. The smallest, concave, it is the headquarters of the Senate, and major, convex or in the shape of jar opened towards the sky, is that of the Assembly. Both semispheres correspond in size and in character to both groups that are employed at his interior. In the Senate there must prevail the reflection, the balance, the meditation and the serenity. The Deputies’ Chamber, or Assembly, is opened for the impact of all the ideologies and for the worries of the people. The forms of both and his functions, they are intimately tied so and are simple investments of a virtual common sphere, in such a way that if they were superposed they would compose a circle, symbol of the universal balance.

One accedes at the principal entry raising a ramp that crosses a reservoir. The Senators’ Chamber is small and trasmite a sensation of tranquility. In the Plenary one or Chamber of the Assembly everything has a tonality yellow – greenish that comes from the lighting of the vitral of the ceiling and is transmitted to the whole room.

The exterior vision of the set is capable of projecting an image of modernity, across the architecture, for the most important consultative organs of the country.

The taste for the spheres sinking in the land it is the Neimeyer’s classic one. Not only it uses it in the previous set, does it in the following one that we will visit and, recently it has projected in Native of Avila (Spain) the International Center of the Culture, where it has returned to raise a dome appearing of the land.

Cultural complex of the Republic

The Cultural Complex of the Republic, is the last one of our periplus. It is placed in the Monumental Axis, near the Cathedral. It consists of the National Library of Brasilia and the National Museum of the Republic, the biggest cultural complexes of Brazil. The Museum formed by a white semisphere to which one accedes for a gangplank that enters the building then to go out and to border on it, as whom it surrounds a thread in the ball of which it forms a part. It was constructed with almost 50 years of delay, that is to say in 2006, to celebrate 99 years of the architect, and this way to honour his work and his life. With this small honoring to Niemeyer we finish the tour.

Cristina García-Rosales. Architect
Madrid. April 2012

Brasilia: a great machine to live or a made Utopia of reality? [VI] | 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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