Saturday, November 6, 2010

Brasilia: The Dragonfly

Architect Lucio Costa once said about his design, “It was not my intention to enter the competition, and as a matter of fact I am not doing so, I am merely passing on a possible solution which was not sought but, so to speak, took shape almost spontaneously… The city should be planned for orderly and efficient work, but, at the same time, should be both vital and pleasing, suitable for reverie and intellectual speculation, it should be such a city that, with time, could become not only the seat of government and administration, but also one of the more lucid and distinguished cultural centers in the country.”

In 1956, Costa won the competition of the urban plan project for the city of Brasilia. His close friend Oscar Niemeyer was the chief architect of public buildings, and Roberto Burle Marx was the landscape designer. It started with a sketch sign of the cross that curved from the edges to adapt the topography and the natural drainage in the city, creating a triangle form that meets the limits of the urbanized area. These strong axis lines established the natural access entries to the city, and the curved line shaped the residential spaces. Within the intersection of the vertical and curved axis, the concept started to develop.

Costa did not even choose to run for an office at that time; he simply presented the project as a possible solution to the problem of planning the city. What can be found in his design principle is functionalism, with the administrative facilities and residential areas located on the dragonfly or airplane-shaped design form.

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