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    EXPLORE

    Illuminated in pink, a large tower and two huge domes are reflected in the water at night.
    The Senate is situated under the concave dome (left above), symbolizing reflection and balance. The Chamber of Deputies is under the convex dome, representing openness to the people.

    Brasilia, Capital of Hope

    Throughout our journey on two wheels, our senses were always tuned in. Seeing, reading, listening, smelling, tasting, experiencing Brazil to better understand it. To understand Brasi­lia, there’s nothing like an interview with historian Thiago Perpetuo from the National Institute of Artistic and Historical Heritage. Can you tell us about your work? “IPHAN’s mission is to safeguard our memory. […] We are creating a general map of all the country’s cultural aspects and events. Through our actions, this heritage can grow and exist for future generations.”

    The creation of Brasi­lia was a true epic. Tens of thousands of humble workers, including Thiago’s grandfather, worked day and night to raise a new capital from the ground in 1960 in less than 1,000 days. “Brazil wanted to become a modern country, with the clear intention of joining the concert of great nations,” explains Thiago. Seen from the air, the master plan (plano piloto), drawn up by urban planner Lucio Costa, is shaped like an airplane. The cockpit is home to the three powers (executive, legislative and judicial). The capital is organized according to urban activities under evocative names such as Setor Bancario Norte, Setor de Hoteis de Turismo Norte, etc. The famous superquadras are residential areas built on concrete stilts.

    In front of an orange poster, portrait of a man in his thirties with a small beard and brown hair.
    Historian Thiago Perpetuo of the National Institute of Artistic and Historical Heritage.

    Originally designed for 500,000 souls, the Federal District now has a population of over three million. Thiago, what are the main challenges here?” Brasi­lia is a living city that cannot be frozen in time. On the other hand, as its outstanding universal value is under the aegis of UNESCO World Heritage, its fundamental characteristics cannot be altered. […] In this city, the car is king, and parking demand is constantly increasing, as well as congestion. Public transport must improve. Healthy mobility is a solution. But even bike racks can detract from the authenticity of this unique creation. So any change in this environment is a chess game,” says the holder of a master’s degree in Preservaçao do Patrimonio Cultural.

    On a tall concrete column, a statue of a man waves with his right hand on a blue sky background.
    “Fifty years of progress in five years” was the dream of then President Juscelino Kubitschek.

    Other challenges include property speculation, poverty and social inequality. In these circumstances, Thiago, what is the Capital of Hope becoming today? “These are difficult and intense times. The political situation is very divided, and protests are breaking out in the biggest cities. Yet hope and the promise of a more egalitarian Brazil remain in this country whose history is very recent”, admits the native of Brasília. This is the capital of all Brazilians. However, when I look at this image (below) taken from the top of the television tower (in the middle of Eixo monumental), I still feel that these two worlds are very different.

    Just after sunset, a fairground is illuminated in this glittering cityscape.
    This view of the rich from the city centre and the poorest living on the suburbs, this horizon glittering with lights where the Brazilian people dream of a more just country.

    In conclusion, concrete action could come from the Palácio do Planalto, the official seat of the President of the Federative Republic. But also from the Senate under the concave dome (on the left in the first photo), a symbol of reflection and balance. Or the Chamber of Deputies under the convex dome, representing openness to the people. Whatever the winds of change, the Federal District can become more humane, sustainable and affordable. In this chess game, what do the king and his court think?

    Large, modern, white, glazed building with 12 columns.
    Palácio do Planalto, official headquarters of the President of the Federative Republic.

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