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Jordan University of Science and Technology
College of Architecture and Design / Department of
Arch. 331 Modern Architecture
Instructor: Dr. Raed Al Tal
The Metaphor of Machine / Brasilia
“New Monumentality,” a term used by a group of architects,
among them Sigfired Giedion, Walter Gropius , Lucio Costa.
They published their ideas in an article in Architectural
Review 104, September 1948. the article talks about a “
second positive stage” that modern architecture had to
undertake, namely “ the development of an idiom rich and
flexible enough to express all the ideas that architecture –
especially representational – ought to be capable of
expressing. This “representative” quality is defined as the
*modern architects rejected monumentality.
New monumentality reflects democracy, its connected to nation not leadership.
It failed in representation, self representation.
Their idea was to take modern architecture 1 step forward – new monumentality
Peaceful image for building.
President Juscelino Kubitschek ordered the
construction of Brasilia, fulfilling an article of the
country’s constitution stating that the capital should
be moved from Rio de Janeiro to a place close to
the center of the country in 1956.
Born Febr 27 1902, Toulon, France.
Died June 13 1998, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
In March 1957 Lucio Costa was appointed the
architect in charge of Brasilia’s Master Plan at the
insistence of Oscar Niemeyer (1907-) , who had
been previously selected by the Brazilian president
Kubitschek as the principle architect of the capital .
"My design sprang up spontaneously in
the earliest sketches," Niemeyer
remembered. "A central pillar, with the
architecture floating free in space, like a
University of Constantine Algiers, Algeria by Oscar
The program stated that the projected city was to
accommodate a population of 500,000, and was to be
located in close proximity to the artificial lake Paranoa
Both Costa and Niemeyer envisioned Brasilia as both
epicenter and symbol of national renovation
The city conceived as a model for the nation, a
paradigm of development and indication of the new
Brazilian civilization – to mirror its social and
architectural organization the patterns of an advanced
Brasilia as the “City of the Future” , but also recapturing
the past, that is, between the globalizing influences of
the modern age and the local dispositions of identity and
The competition attracted 26 entries and provided a
summation of the generally prevailing principles of modern
urban planning as put forward in CIAM manifestos.
- the idea of “functional zoning” (sharp segregation of urban
-systems of traffic separation
-the use of the greenbelt as an urban divider
-the residential areas ordered by the super block and
Neimeyer claimed, the requirement was not aimed at,
“the projection of an ordinary city…. The attainment of a
solution which harmonized the local setting the character of
culture, civilization and monumentality which a capital
“ Functionalism was not Enough,”
The question of the symbolic representation of
*everyone wanted to design it, le Corbusier was travelling back & forth to Brasilia to
establish good relations, but he didn’t design it in the end.
There was a closed competition.
The president was friends with Niemeyer & Lucio Costa so they designed it.
Oscar – architect, Lucio – urban planner
Oscar – basic shapes & abstraction + international style.
They wanted function + symbolism & monumentality which led to new monumentality.
Monumentality and Democracy
The way to achieve monumentality, Costa implied, was
to imbue the plan with spatial grandeur and confer a
ceremonial focus on the city in the classical tradition:
Grand avenues, broad vistas and, most importantly,
the establishment of a clear architectural hierarchy
which highlighted the presence of government; this
was precisely what the jury was looking for.
Postwar discussions, monumentality as an expression
of democratic values
“anti-monumentalism “ against early 20th century
New conception of monumentality came from that the
abstract and technical language of functionalism had
revealed itself incapable of conveying the collective
aspirations of a society. The missing “representational
quality” in architecture was identified by many in the
post war period as monumentality.
City and Symbol
To embody the idea of monumentality on the scale
of an entire city, for Costa it depends on the correct
balance between the city’s functional and symbolic
For him Brasilia was both a city and national symbol,
and the idea came to him as a complete picture, a
product of a vision
The Sign of the Cross
The primary gesture which anyone would make when
pointing to a given place, or taking possession of it: the
drawing of two axes crossing each other at right angles,
that is the very sign of the Cross - (Metaphor)
1. the crossing of the two axis spatially defined the place
where the new capital was to be born
2. the cross functioned as an iconic sign with profound
first Landers to Brasilia were Christians, they were the ones who brought culture to this
country – religion.
Urban history – ancient cities – most of them were designed as a cross 2 axis.
Sense of orientation – coordinate system.
The two axis of the Cross were aligned with the cardinal
Next step was to adapt the sign of the Cross to the :
-The natural drainage of the land
-The best possible orientation
-To fit the triangular shape of the area to be urbanized
Reflects the industrial or machine age, when they went to see the site, they flew in
an airplane to get there not a car.
2 axis –
1)short monumental, wider & straight, there were all the government buildings.
2)Long, domestic, broken, curvilinear, no direct views.
The Pilot Plan as presented by
Lucio Costa in 1957
The Master Plan
The city’s components were organized along :
The vertical axis – named the Monumental axis-
Costa set the official administrative buildings , while
he placed along the slightly curved horizontal artery
the residential and associated sectors
The residential district was divided into two
sectors: The North and South wings, both sectors
were designed in a sequence of super blocks
Three Powers Square
( legislative, executive and judicial)
The City Cathedral and Cultural centre seen
from the TV tower
On May 31, 1970, the Cathedral’s structure was finished
The exterior of the cathedral resembles the circular plan and ribbed
The cathedral is a hyperboloid structure constructed from 16
Four bronze sculptures 3 m high, representing the
Evangelists, can be seen at the external square in the
entrance of the Temple.
Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
The cathedral's architect was
Englishman Frederick Gibberd,
Inside the nave, three sculptures of angels are
suspended by steel cables.