Brasília, Brazil’s planned capital, was supposed to be very different

The planned capital, a monument to modernist architecture, was supposed to be surrounded by a green belt of small farms that never were

Precarious housing for the workers who built Brasília. Photo: Public archives of the Federal District

Planned and built from scratch in a span of just five years, Brasília is a truly unique city. Its plane-shaped planned city center is filled with millions of trees and hundreds of landmark buildings that provide a snapshot of mid-20th century modernism — making it a world heritage site and the largest area of listed buildings in the world. 

The new federal capital was conceived as a modern, innovative urban utopia that would reflect the image of a booming country. 

However, something the history books have missed is that the original plan for Brasília was to also make the...

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