The capital of Brazil, Brasilia is a planned city with parks and open spaces designed at the height of automotive thinking in the late 1950s.
The city was laid out by Lucio Costa and the buildings by famed and still-living centenarian architect Oscar Niemeyer. Many of the buildings are iconic and beautiful in their modern form, but the highways of the city horrificly cut off key public places. Discovering Urbanism provides a great analysis of the city’s equivalence to Washington’s National Mall in showing the “desire paths” of those pedestrians who do venture into this green space.
The analysis “reveals a complex network of activity very different from the plan.” The exercise says much about how planners and designers should consider where people want to go perhaps more than where they themselves want people to go.
It also raises an interesting question about Brasilia and other planned cities: despite the historic nature of this planned city, should modifications be made, such as removing the clover leafs? Or can compromises be reached. For instance, could the integrity of the design be preserved by closing down the clover leafs and on-ramps to cars and making them into people-oriented park features?