One of the most striking novelties of the construction of Brasília in the 1950’s, was the complete separation of functions and of transport flows. As Brasília’s Pilot Plan is now UNESCO world heritage, this rigid division is likely to persist in the city’s DNA forever. Subtle changes, however, are in the making:
Not surprisingly, the road system – cars and buses – is the backbone of Brasília. It is often said that without a car, life is difficult there, except for your local necessities that you can find in the living environment of the ‘super-block’. The road system is fluid, almost without traffic lights, using many flyovers and extensive junctions. The pedestrian walkways form a secondary system, literally undermines the main system of cars, diving underneath the junctions by many pedestrian tunnels. The pedestrian flows have not been explored yet for commercial activities, except for some illegal vending, neither for services. A competition, organized by the Institute of Brazilian Architects of the Federal District seeks to change this (application until April 10th!).
Designers are asked to contribute with realistic and innovative plans for one of the main pedestrian tunnels of the city, underneath the main road axis (Eixão), as well as other tunnels in the future. New commercial and communitarian functions should be joined to these passageways, while keeping them safe and functional.
View a short film of Brasília’s pedestrian tunnels, underneath the main axis
The video soundtrack is quite cute. The film may be seen as a beautiful piece of art. However, one should not take it as a reliable register of the pedestrian tunnels.
I live in Brasilia, near this area. In general, the tunnels (aka ‘passarelas’)are dirty and unsafe. A lot of pedestrians prefer not to use (they prefer to take the risk crossing the a six lane avenue)
What are your thoughts about the competition, Rafael? Do you think a new project would solve the problems you describe?
I suppose leveled pedestrian crossings are unthinkable in the Plano Piloto?