An Overview of Brasilia at 60 Years Old

Oscar Niemeyer’s Palacio da Alvorada in Brasilia. Photo credit: Alamy

If you were to know the inner thoughts of the people who run for the highest office in their country, I’m sure there would be a split between people who do it to help their fellow citizens and those who do it for power. But in Brasil, where the country’s capital for the last 60 years has been in the city of Brasilia, there might be a third – and very compelling – reason: To be able to live in the President’s official residence.

Pictured above is the Palacio da Alvorada, designed by Oscar Niemeyer as part of the 5-year project that was the city of Brasilia, which was officially inaugurated 60 years ago in 1960.

Along with urban planner Lucio Costa and landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx, Niemeyer helped create what is arguably one of the most fascinating planned cities in the world. 

In her article for Architectural Digest, Stefanie Waldek discsusses the successes and failures of Brasilia as a city, from a socio-architectural perspective.

If you aren’t familiar with Brasilia or the work of Oscar Niemeyer, this is a good introduction, but I strongly recommend reading – and looking at – more. Niemeyer’s architecture is a brilliant flavor of modernism designed to instill a sense of optimistic futurism: Something that was central to the concept behind the city as a whole and what it should mean for the Brasil as a country.