Brasilia: Fifty years of the future
By Gary Duffy ,BBC News, Brasilia
Published: April 06, 2010
Brasilia was a city built at high speed in the late 1950s, fulfilling a long held Brazilian dream to have a new capital in the heart of the country. The president at the time, Juscelino Kubitschek, had promised his people 50 years of progress in five, and work proceeded at a frenetic pace. While Brasilia was under construction, it is said the president used to travel at night to inspect the project, before returning to the then capital in Rio de Janeiro to fulfill a normal round of engagements the next day.
The new capital, located in the state of Goias, was inaugurated on 21 April 1960 after barely three and a half years of rapid development. Many of the city's most striking buildings were designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, with his trademark use of concrete and curves. Among them were the National Congress, with its concave and convex domes symbolising the two houses of the legislature, and the city's cathedral with 16 columns coming together to represent hands outstretched to heaven.
It was a bold and dramatic statement that was meant to represent a new vision for the future. "The idea of the new buildings and the plan of Brasilia itself was to create an image of a modern Brazil," says Professor Jose Galbinski, at the Centre University of Brasilia. "It was a contrast with the old tradition, the old Brazil."
However, he says this dramatic change finally came about by accident, even though the proposal had been around for a long time. "The idea of a new capital in the interior had stayed like a dead item in the constitution for decades. Nobody cared about this issue, until the time of Juscelino Kubitschek," says Professor Galbinski. "When he was campaigning for president he was asked by a young man at a public meeting if he would obey the constitution, to which he replied, 'of course I will, I am running for president'." The young guy pointed out there was an article in the constitution which said the capital should be changed from Rio de Janeiro to the interior of Brazil. "Kubitschek was astonished with this, as he had never thought about it. And he replied, 'ok, I will answer you, I will obey all the articles of the constitution, and I will make the move'."
Disponível em: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/2/hi/americas/8569349.stm (texto adaptado).
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