Not yet 60 years old, Brasília, the engineered utopia which rose from an open, grassy plain, is now the country’s fourth-largest city. Architect Oscar Niemeyer eschewed the international style for what were the most organic shapes ever to bloom in architectural history.
While visionary, Niemeyer ’s designs are quintessentially Brazilian. They incorporate brise solei l touches inspired by fazendas —colonial Por tuguese plantation houses. Undulating ing lines reflect the perpetual movement felt across the country from the Amazon River to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro—the beat of samba, and the vibrant culture that is the nation’s spirit.
Designed in the shape of an airplane when viewed from above (an homage to Le Corbusier), The city built for a jet-set age now houses all three branches of government . Niemeyer ’s experimental civic buildings were linked by common design elements that thrust him to global acclaim. He gained honorary membership into the American Institute of Architects, and was awarded the Pritzker Prize. Years earlier, Mayor La Guardia was so enthralled by the Brazilian pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair, he gave the prescient 32-year old designer the keys to New York City.
Today, there is a joyful optimism and light surrounding the world’s largest modernist project . Its residents never tire of gazing at its fantastical architecture.
Aristeu Pires lived in Brasília from childhood to his mid-20s, when the city was shiny new. His entire oeuvre speaks from the design vernacular that is Brasília’s modernist architecture.