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Brazil - The Modern



One of the signature buildings in Brasilia. This view shows
the upturned bowl of the deputy chamber with the Congress's
office towers in the background.

Ministry Buildings

Lining the Mall in Brasilia are two rows of identical glass
boxes which house government ministry offices. I was there in
January when everyone was on vacation. The place was empty and

Model of Brasilia

Behind the Congress is an underground room with an overhead
model of Brasilia. The layout of the city is in the shape of
and airplane [modernist symbolism gone wrong]. The wings
are where the residential and commercial districts are. The
fuselage has the main government buildings and ceremonial sites.

The Cathedral

The nave of the Cathedral is underground. One enters through a
tunnel. What is visible here is just the roof.

The Cathedral's Belltower

Cathedral, Interior

The blue and green stained glass windows make the cathedral
interior feel warm and tropical, as if I were still back on
the beach in Rio. There are too many windows, I think. The
interior is too bright and lacks the solemnity of a Cathedral.

Dom Bosco Church

The Dom Bosco chapel is in the residential section of town. It's
just a simple rectangle with the most amazing walls of stained
glass, as you can see. The colors are really this vivid.

Senate Chamber

One weird thing about the interior of the Congress is that
nearly every surface is carpeted. This give the whole place
a hushed, muted quality and not the clacking, echoing spaces
typical of public buildings.

Funky Furniture in Congress's Lobby

Oscar Niemeyer designed down to little details like the over-
sized leather furniture and white shag carpet in the lobby.
Niemeyer is still alive (as of June 2001) and must be consulted
on any small changes to his creation, fashion be damned.

Tunnel Passageway in Congress Building

Connecting many government buildings in Brasila are these
concrete tubes which sometimes are buried and sometimes fly
through the air like freeway overpasses. Were it not for the
busts and the ever-present carpet I might have thought myself
on the subway.

Random Hospital with "Crazy" Modern Design

Clever, modern architecture is not limited to the main buildings
in Brasilia. All over one can find examples of design run amok
as in this Hospital.

Residential Blocks

Rather than have street names, residential Brasilia is divided
into zones, sectors and blocks. Longtime residents will tell you
it's very logical. As a newcomer it's utterly confusing.

Rio de Janeiro

Downtown Rio

Several subway stops from the beach and you'll find yourself
in downtown Rio amidst a forest of glass boxes.

Poor Zoning Laws in Downtown Rio

Rio had a charming historic center, a legacy of it's former
days as capital. Old buildings are still around but poor
preservation and zoning laws have lead to a profusion of cheap
and quick highrises like the one ont he left.

Petrobras Headquarters

Rubik's Cube or the Borg? This buildings houses the headquarters
of the old state oil monopoly, Petrobras.

Old Convent w/ Petrobras

Smack in the center of Rio's redeveloped downtown sits this old
convent from the 17th Century. Surrounding it are the glass boxes
you see above and the lovely Petrobras building in the background.

Contemporary Art Museum, Niteroi

Oscar Niemeyer is still alive and kicking and churning out buildings.
One might have thought this space-age style went out with the Jetsons.
In fact this building was completed in 1996!

Niteroi is to Rio what Oakland is to San Francisco, a poorer,
unfabulous cousin across the bay. This museum has quickly become
the city's icon, appearing on bus and ferry logos. If you're in
Rio and are adventurous enough to make it off the beach, take a quick
and cheap ferry ride across to see this real lollipop of a building.

More Views of Niteroi Museum

Niemeyer was a modernist and highly influenced by Le Corbusier, the
French architect. Niemeyer's buildings have much more sensuous curves
and seem much more tropical. It's like he took all these stern, Northern
European Bauhaus designs and added a little rum, samba, and sex.

Waiting for the Bus
I took this with my point and shoot camera balanced on my knee
as I waited for the all-night bus to leave Rio to go to Ouro Preto.

More Photos

Thank you for visiting. These photos are from 2001. I am currently living in Buenos Aires and blogging about it. Please check it out. The site is called:


I also have a personal blog at ThomasLockeHobbs.com, as well as a Flickr stream with many photos of Sao Paulo.