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Lessons from Brasília: Reasoning and (Un)intended Consequences of a Capital City Relocation

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Part of the Advances in 21st Century Human Settlements book series (ACHS)


Constructed in the 1950s, Brazil’s planned capital city Brasília offers manifold insights and lessons. Predeceasing Nusantara’s construction by 66 years, the rationale was similar. From its beginning, the city was designed for geopolitical reasons, as a means for developing the periphery and as a symbolic departure into modernity. Oriented at European modernism, the city was planned and constructed in only 4 years according to the principles of the Athens Charter. The result was not only an impressive landmark of modernity but also a city without urbanity. Soon, satellite towns developed, characterised by informal dynamics and fragmentation. Today’s metropolitan region reflects Brazil’s society: fragmented and uneven. Based on decades of field research in Brasília this paper aims to provide insights into the city’s historical urban development from a geographic perspective and lessons learned. In doing so, it reveals drawbacks, achievements as well as (un)intended consequences of this centennial project.


  • Brasília
  • Capital city relocation

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Correspondence to Christian Obermayr .

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Obermayr, C., Coy, M., Hafner, R., Töpfer, T. (2023). Lessons from Brasília: Reasoning and (Un)intended Consequences of a Capital City Relocation. In: Warsilah, H., Mulyani, L., Nasution, I.K. (eds) Assembling Nusantara. Advances in 21st Century Human Settlements. Springer, Singapore.

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