Society

Brasília turns 60: how the utopia became a monument to inequality

Brazil's capital city is an architectural marvel and unlike anything on Earth, but its utopic vision has crumbled, leaving a monument to inequality in its place

Brasília turns 60: how the utopia became a monument to inequality
Landfill just 35 kilometers from the presidential palace. Photo: Wilson Dias/ABr

Founded on April 21, 1960, the capital city of Brasília was planned and built from scratch, following the principles of modernist urban design. In its landscape and scale, visiting Brasília is a unique experience. A monument to Brazilian euphoria and hope for the future straight out of the 1950s, the city is also planned to within an inch of its life. But in many aspects, the modernist utopia — which believed that every dimension of urban life could be organized — has failed.

Many have called its monumental distances “inhuman” and “suffocating.” And it is one of the least...

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