A glimpse to Brasília…in Tokyo

They say the world was created in seven days. Try to guess how long does it take to build a city from scratch?

Believe it or not, but it can be done in 3 years! And if you happen to visit Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art these days, you will witness a living example.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo

I learned about it from a friend who studied architecture and happened to live in Brazil for a while, though if you are into architecture, you may have guessed the answer by now. Yes, I am talking about Oscar Niemeyer, known as the father of modernist Brazilian architecture.

Brasília city could be called his masterpiece, designed under invitation of the president at the time Juscelino Kubitschek. Built in just 3 years on a plain piece of land and inaugurated in April 1960, it was Brazil’s most ambitious project and a success story, transcending architectural ideas to reality and leading to UNESCO World Heritage status in 1987.

Brasilia – a city built in 3 years, designed by O. Niemeyer and planned as an airplane (see the shape with body and two wings)

During his long working life (and Oscar Niemeyer was still working on a few projects until his death at the age of 104!) he realized a number of projects not only in Brazil, but also in other countries including France (Paris), USA (New York), Algeria, Israel, and others.

United Nations Headquarters building in New York City.

He is best known for the abstract forms and curves and his futuristic shapes have inspired many architects in Japan. If you spare some time to watch the movie displayed as part of the exhibition, you will see how an idea transforms into a sketch in just 3-4 lines and within the same number of seconds.

Transforming idea into a building: Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum.

Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum in miniature and photos.

Here what he wrote in his memoirs:

“I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman. Curves make up the entire Universe, the curved Universe of Einstein.”

Given that seeing yourself is worth much more than hearing about it from someone else, I stop here.

Ibirapuera Park in miniature version. Take off your shoes and walk around!

Ibirapuera park model

The exhibition is temporary, opened to mark the 120th anniversary of Japan – Brazil diplomatic relationship and in preparation of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, so don’t wait too long. Should you plan to go to next year’s Olympic Games, maybe this will inspire you to include Brasília in travel itinerary.

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