Sunday, April 12, 2009

Brazilian spaces

There's a lovely slide show of the highlights of Brazilian modernism on flickr. Of course, Oscar Niemeyer (now 102!) is a towering figure, especially when it comes to the architecture of the capital city, Brasilia.

Above all, the concrete angularity of modernist Brazil shows an openness to public life: agoras, piazzas, public buildings that welcome the citizen and the stranger alike. Compare and contrast with Abuja, a city almost entirely lacking in good quality architecture, and devoid of public buildings (no national library, art gallery, concert hall etc.) If one wants to wander in Abuja, one quickly finds oneself stumbling across roads and intersections, and at a loss as to where the actual centre of the city is (lacking as it does a central public space). Finally, after a tired day, the wanderer finds themself at the Transcorp Hilton, and realises that this is the city centre...

More interesting a prospect is Onikan in Lagos. This potentially could be the most delightful urban quarter in the whole country, with a bit of love and attention. Its mix of Brazilian-style houses and modernist towers is a treasure waiting to pulled out of the rubble. You read it here first..


Giles,  8:53 pm  

Lina Bo Bardi ... exquisite

yes we could benefit from architecture like this... problem is no one wants to talk about architecture or produce good architecture.

Jeremy maybe you should talk more about architecture on your blog!..
and ... Onikan and Lagos Island could do with an injection of wothy interventions nestled close to the restored brazillian houses ...

We need exhibitions !!! books ... Magazines and a lot of mullah to support such efforts ... sigh

morethandesigns 11:08 am  

Oscar the great, still going strong at 102!! He designed the pavillion at the serpentine gallery london in 2003. One of my best of the series.

I know the Abuja masterplan designed by Kenzo Tange the japanese architect in 1978 contained some of these public spaces you are talking about.

Just like many projects in our dear country that get started the full masterplan is yet to be fully realised.

Yes we need more architecture!

CodLiverOil 2:50 pm  

Brazil and Nigeria are not compatible in anyway. Brazil stands head and shoulders above Nigeria, even their favelas are of a better standard.

Giles,  2:17 pm  

@ morethandesigns - slight correction; Abuja was masterplanned by IPA [International Planning Associates - a foreign consortium] and the Detailed Masterplan for the Central Area was done by Kenzo Tange. This however doesn't imply that the suggestions in his initial proposals should be implemented to the letter. Masterplans are flexible frameworks that provide guidelines for future development and are not supposed to built exactly as planned. The complex asumptions that inform the planning process are fluid. The essence of the Abuja Masterplan has been implemented and the sanitisation excercise carried out by Mr el Rufai did address a lot of the key principles, notable open space provisions, no build zones, land use stipulations and a coherent streetscape.

I do find a lack of proper awareness of the processes behind architecture and urban design in discussions with most 'educated' nigerians,hence the generally superficial commentary,somehow the environment produced benefits from this ignorance.

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