Brasília is the capital city of Brazil. The city and its District are located in the Central-West region of the country, along a plateau known as Planalto Central. It has a population of about 2,557,000 (3,599,000 in the metropolitan area) as of the 2008 IBGE estimate, making it the fourth largest city in Brazil.
As the national capital, Brasília is the seat of all three branches of the Brazilian government, legislative, judicial and executive. The city also hosts the headquarters of many Brazilian companies. Planning policies such as the location of residential buildings around expansive urban areas, as well as building the city around large avenues and dividing it into sectors, have sparked a debate and reflection on life in big cities in the 20th century. The city’s design divides it into numbered blocks as well as sectors for specified activities, such as the Hotel Sector, the Banking Sector or the Embassy Sector.
The city was planned and developed in 1956 with Lúcio Costa as the principal urban planner and Oscar Niemeyer as the principal architect (see also the Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba). On April 22 of 1960, it formally became Brazil’s national capital. Viewed from above, the main portion of the city resembles an airplane or a butterfly as can be seen in the following image (click on the image too see more detail).
The government is in the head of the butterfly and can be seen in more detail in the following image. The three branches of government are clearly divided into congress on the left, administration at the top and justice at the bottom.
The city is a very interesting structure as it has been completely planned from the ground up. The area was just a barren desert fifty years ago, then the huge lake was made and the city planned and built around it. A closer view of one of the “wings” shows the repeating pattern of rows of blocks, sixteen rows of five in each wing. The motorway entrance/exit systems for two of the rows are circled for clarity.
The image below shows one of the entrance/exit systems in more detail, all sixteen in each wing are exactly the same structure. Each of these rows of five blocks has odd numbered blocks on one side of the motorway and even numbered ones on the other side. Each of the five blocks has a residential and business area so that people can find most of their daily needs in their local vicinity.