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"Brasília: Contradictions of a New City"

April 27th, 2011

João Pelles Jr, who I call my "Brazilian Brother" because I lived with his family as a Rotary Exchange student in 1983, shared these two stunning old documentaries about the intent, design, construction and economic and cultural impact of creating Brazil's Capital city, Brasília, a work designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and created in the middle of the jungle in just four years (from 1956-1960).

The videos are in Portuguese, but the images should be of interest to architecture and urban planning students everywhere.

The first video (above) describes how every piece of the city was designed intentionally. From restaurants and stores built in the apartment buildings with discreet entrances and exits to allow busy residents to both enjoy and socialize as well as manage busy lives.

The second video (below) offers a more dire take on the the construction. It features interviews with the many poor workers who helped build Brasília and moved there in hopes of finding employment. One dismayed new resident describes how he is desperate to leave since the work he thought he would find has not manifest.

The videos are a fascinating time-traveling snapshot to a window of time in Brazil that was both tumultuous and dizzying in its fervor to manifest a dream.

[Also see: TIME Mag's "Twitter in Brazil" Misses Key Points

Read other articles on The Imagination Age about Brazil and digital culture. ]

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Categories: architecture, brasil, brasilia, brazil, public space, urban planning

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