The project is based in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil which was inaugurated in 1960. A city which was dropped atop the Brazilian highlands in the country‘s center-western region on open land. It is a model city, designed from a model. City planner Lucio Costa and architect Oscar Niemeyer were iterating multiple forms and their arrangements, which resulted in the well-known pilot plan. The pilot plan shows two axis distinct from another, the monumental axis with sculptural buildings each having an own identity and the residential axis where 140 neighbourhood units, so called superquadras, are arranged repetitively. The design of these buildings is formalistic, aswell as their arrangements – not functional.
The projects attempts to collapse the monumental axis onto the residential axis, because I am interested in the value of the monument and the relationship between the monument and its surroundings. What if the monuments would be integrated into the residential axis? What I am interested in is the formal setup of the city, and how it would operate if the buildings would be rearranged. Therefore I analyzed the architecture and rearranged the buildings compositionally to an extend arbitrary with endless possibilities.
In the proposed iteration where all of my investigations are considered, we can see a totality where all buildings can be considered as monuments or none.
The image of a city is made up of its landmarks, its monuments. Especially in Brasilia where monumental buildings are arranged along an axis, all having their own identity, expressing an image of power and progress, a capital is represented. Along the monumental axis 95% of the ground is unbuilt, which let the monuments stand up as individual objects, without an immediate context. View connections from one monument to another can be identified.
What if the monument would exist in the context of the city and not solely along the axis serving representational functions? Would the monuments still be monuments?
In this scenario Brasilia is seen for the first time as a city, with integrated monuments in the city structure. To break the clear devision and collapse one axis onto the other results in a chaos in which one can finally perceive a city. The surreal image of Brasilia gets deconstructed and a situation arises with no more monuments or only monuments.
Brasilia is an entirely constructed city. What if it would be constructed differently?
Who influences you graphically?
The project is based in Brasilia, the modernist capital of Brazil. The representations reference the city – its axis, buildings, vegetation and landscape – together with Niemeyer’s attempts to create an architecture of surprise. Graphically the work is influenced by Paul Rudolph’s drawings, Agnes Martin’s way of using the line, Bernd and Hilla Becher’s photographs, Marcel Gautherot’s photographs and Ed Ruscha’s photographs.
How relevant is the idea of the monument nowadays?
The relevance of each monument lies in its specific reference to context and identity. A monument is a moment of intensity within a city, which becomes embedded in the collective memory of its inhabitants. In Brasilia these monuments are demonstrations of political power.
What influences your color palette? how does this reflect the thesis and or Brasilia as a city which defies human scale?
The color palette is informed by the project itself. I used the black and white to show Brasilia as an abstraction – a model city built built as a 1:1 scale model. For Niemeyer form dictated function and the city ignored the needs of its inhabitants.
You talk about integrating the monuments within the fabric of the city, nonetheless neglect to show people within the images – what is the reason and effect of this?
For the design unit we travelled to Brasilia. When I visited the city’s urban blocks – `superquadras` – there was a distinct lack of occupation. During one whole day I only came across 8-10 people. Brasilia was built for cars, not for people – so it seems to exist at a city scale, devoid of people. I have tried to represent this absence in the drawings. An `elegant monotony`, as Simone de Beauvoir described the city.
How could a specific format – maybe that of a manifesto – have influenced and reinforced the thesis and strength of the images?
The project is a provocation – a drawn manifesto that makes an argument and illustrates endless alternative possibilities in which Brasilia could have been configured.