26 September 2009

Urban Dreamscape ~ Capital City Brasilia at 50!

Given the tremendous recent interest in vital urbanization, green designs, charter cities, and more, it's good to read Nick Foster's FT piece Urban Dreamscape about Brasilia at 50, the from-scratch new capital of the Latin giant...
"Brasilia was not the first capital to be designed from scratch. Planned at the end of the 18th century, Washington, DC, was the fulfilment of article one of the US constitution and provided for a national capital distinct from the states, as well as a location that was considered more secure than Philadelphia. The site of Canberra was selected in 1908 as a compromise between the great Australian rivals Sydney and Melbourne. And today a slew of new cities is being raised in locations such as China and the Middle East. Astana -- a work in progress that is the new capital of Kazakhstan – has a population of 700,000 and has provided a blank canvas for architects such as Norman Foster. But Brasilia can surely lay claim to being the most ambitious urban creation. The US capital was sited next to an existing settlement (Georgetown) and Canberra -- although it is now Australia’s biggest inland city -- is an easy morning’s drive from Sydney. Set against this, Brasilia was both the engine that opened up a vast, virtually empty, tract of central Brazil and -- at its inception, at least -- a piece of particularly Brazilian social engineering."
Very interesting to learn lessons from this experience.

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