Page D1.1 . 09 June 2004                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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Bridging Brasilia

by ArchitectureWeek

The growing city of Brasilia needed a third bridge over a lake that separated half its inhabitants from their places of work. In response to a competition, architect Alexandre Chan and structural engineer Mario Vila Verde, both from Rio de Janeiro, produced the winning concept: a daring, dancing variation on an ancient structural form.

Beginning in 1957, Brasilia was built in a sparsely populated region of the country's interior. The new, completely modern city was dominated by the works of architect Oscar Niemeyer who is respected worldwide for his structures of soaring, curving concrete.

Four decades after its birth, Brasilia had surpassed expectations for its development. The city of around 2 million inhabitants had begun to spread. The two existing bridges over the lake could no longer accommodate the heavy traffic.

Enter the Third Bridge

In the land of Niemeyer, the "President Juscelino Kubitscheck Bridge" feels right at home. The graceful arches of the JK Bridge, as it is known informally, play a joke on the eye. As they cross Paranoá Lake, they abandon any staid, engineered rhythm and instead jump from side to side, like a child hopping across a stream.   >>>

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ArchWeek Image

President Juscelino Kubitscheck Bridge in Brasilia, by architect Alexandre Chan and structural engineer Mario Vila Verde.
Photo: Rui Faquini

ArchWeek Image

As the bridge arches cross Paranoá Lake, they jump from side to side.
Photo: Rui Faquini


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