Happy Birthday Brasilia: Brazil’s Capital Turns 60

The capital of Brazil was inaugurated on 21 April 1960, following a four-year construction period and containing landmark works by a roaster of Brazilian modernists; this year, 2020, Brasilia celebrates its 60th anniversary.


All Photos by Paul Clemence

Few places in the world offer such an expansive, extraordinary composition of Modernist architecture as the Brazilian capital. Part of a handful of Modernist clusters around the world – such as, for example, Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh in India – Brasilia combines the gravitas, drama and scale of the International Style with the glamour and power of a country’s beating heart, conceived right from the start as the embodiment of modern Brazil.

Brasilia, which was created from scratch, was inaugurated in 1960, following nearly four years of construction in the heart of the South American country. Featuring a grand urban plan by Lúcio Costa, with Oscar Niemeyer as its iconic principle architect and Roberto Burle Marx as the landscape designer, also includes works by lesser known internationally – yet no less important – modernists, such as João Filgueiras Lima (Lelé) and Ícaro Castro Mello.

Today, the city remains the country’s administrative centre, composed around a monumental axis, in a monumental civic scale. The National Congress and the Supreme Federal Court are there, as well as the official residence of the President of Brazil.

Now, Brasilia is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site and photographer Paul Clemence created and shared with Wallpapaer a series capturing the beauty of Brasilia’s timeless classics, such as the National Congress (1958), the Palace of Justice (1962) and the Metropolitan Cathedral (1959) – all sleek lines, sweeping curves and clean contrasts, against the blue, sunny South American skies.

Story by Ellie Stathaki for Wallpaper*