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Brasilia Lecture, Questionnaire Example

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Questionnaire

What were the problems that Brasilia was designed to solve?
Development was limited to the coast because of geographical challenges such as the Amazon rain forest. This meant dependence on the United States and Europe for industrial imports because of the dense population along the coast.

What did the architects and planners envision for the new capital city and why? What did their plan reflect about what they thought about human beings and modernity?
They envisioned modernization, industrialization and establishing a new frontier by creating a new city capitol. They needed to move the capital of Brasil out of Rio de Janeiro to shift the demographics into the interior in order to build airports, roads, etc. and also contribute to economic development and the growth of industrial infrastructure and the automobile industry. The modernist plan reflected that people were slow to embrace the idea of modernization.

How was the Brazilian government able to build the city so quickly? What early problems emerged?
The city was built quickly because thousands of workers were imported to the site and lived on the site. Early problems included the strain on the government’s finances. It almost went bankrupt. Then a military dictatorship took over in 1964.

How did the military coup in 1964 change people’s view of Brasilia?
People’s views changed about modernism. It was seen as a failure. They viewed their democracy as turning into a place of control and uniformity. Also people noticed that the elite lived in the central districts of Brasilia because they owned automobiles and were better off financially, and the poorer people lived on the outskirts of the city, pushed away from convenience. Neighborhoods were seen as a collection of “cold” pod-like buildings that lacked the warmth, character and personality of the old Brasilia shopping streets. This was considered to be a design failure.

What is the critique in the “Shock of the New Video?” See video below.
The critique suggests that Brasilia is run by political pressure. It is also a city, under 50 years old that is falling apart in many ways. The buildings are eroding and showing signs of aging. The critique says that the new city was built based on political aspirations and not human needs and that the entire idea of the new city turned out to be a big experiment that eventually failed to deliver on quality and usability.

How have people started to reinterpret Brasilia in a positive light? What are the major disadvantages of the city that have emerged?
There has been some reassessment of the modern design in recent times such as people starting to view the open green spaces a plus, and also they realized that the building structures allowed for adequate lighting and air to come into the buildings. Also, Brasilia has drawn in a highly educated population and has grown economically. Disadvantages that have emerged include a negative view of the city’s social structure, because even though all of the people contributed to building the city, the elite get the most benefit from it. The poorer people were forced to move further from the central areas because of the high cost of land in the central areas. This has created transportation problems because the poorest people have such long commutes into the city for work, etc.

Brasilia Reading Questions

What are the lessons that one can learn from Brasília according to the readings? How have people reshaped their lives in Brasilia to better suit their habits?
One can learn from the readings about Brasilia that a city built with sprawl takes up more land per person than building a compact city for more dense populations. It also contributes to higher transportation and housing costs for the residents which leads to a lower quality of life in the city. Also a sprawled out city has higher land and infrastructure costs. This is not economical for the city at large.

How has the rigid planning at Brasilia made life difficult for the poor and working class? In other words, how is Brasilia different from the average Brazilian city?
The city’s spatial structure in the metropolitan area is different from that of other Brazilian cities because of the distinct patterns. This makes it difficult for the poor and working class because there are no streets, so people really have no place to walk in the city. Instead of streets, they have pavement around the buildings but people have to walk through the open spaces or highways to get to different buildings, and there are no traffic control lights, and this is dangerous.  In other cities there are sidewalks. Also, the poor in Brasilia who do not own cars have to walk and take public transportation. Consequently, they have the highest commuter costs to get to work and school.

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