Palácio do Planalto

Garima Kaushik

Courtesy of Gonzalo Viramonte

The Palácio do Planalto, located in the national capital of Brasilia functions as the presidents’ official place of work. It is one of the official palaces of the Presidency, alongside the Palacio de Alvorada, (the official residence) and is the seat of the government. Planalto also contains the offices of the vice president and a few other advisers to the president. The term Planalto refers to the executive branch of the government. 

 The Palácio do Planalto (Presidential Palace), the Congress and Supreme Court, which have the three highest authorities of Brazil are located at the end of the north-south monumental Axis. This structure was a major feature of Costa’s plan due to its prime role as the official workplace of the president and as a symbol of the executive powers of the federal government in the newly established federal capital city of Brasilia. Oscar Niemeyer was chosen as the architect of the Palácio do Planalto and its construction began on July 10, 1958.

Courtesy of Gonzalo Viramonte

In 1956, the newly elected president of Brazil, Juscelino Kubitschek, visited architect Oscar Niemeyer at his modernist home Casa das Canoas in Rio de Janeiro, and proposed to bring to reality, the centuries old idea of moving the country’s capital out of Rio, with its colonial past, to the more centrally located Brasília. Four years later, the city that was inaugurated, was a sprawling new metropolis mapped around a governmental plaza that would become a symbol of modernism and the new era of  utopian ideals.

The inauguration of the palace took place on April 21,1960, by President Juscelino Kubitschek. Planalto palace, the National Congress and the Supreme Federal Court were one of the first buildings to be inaugurated while several spectators watched as the capital transferred from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia.

The underlying principles are those of modernism in architecture which involve elimination of ornamentation, meaningless appliques and promoting structural innovation. This also signified the transition of power from Rio de Janeiro with its colonial past (and colonial architecture) to a modern indigenous era and architecture of Brazil. The longitudinal lines of the palace are depicted by a sequence of columns. 

Courtesy of Gonzalo Viramonte

The underlying principles are those of modernism in architecture which involve elimination of ornamentation, meaningless appliques and promoting structural innovation. This also signified the transition of power from Rio de Janeiro with its colonial past (and colonial architecture) to a modern indigenous era and architecture of Brazil. The longitudinal lines of the palace are depicted by a sequence of columns. 

This modernist building is primarily a rectangular glass box between two slabs supported by a colonnade perimeter. However, the colonnade perimeter is not a conventional Victorian gothic type or of a Greek order as one would expect, but a unique modern interpretation which withholds the same purpose yet redefines and enhances the structure and beauty of the building. The arches that form the perimeter colonnade are perpendicular to the façade, creating a visual fence. 

This gives a sense of privacy to the seemingly transparent interior, in addition to being located on a site with no near neighbours. This also makes it visible from a long distance with unobstructed view lines.

Courtesy of Gonzalo Viramonte

The flat roof extends generously beyond the walls of the building as a shading element and keeps direct sunlight, which is essential in the tropical climate of Brasilia. The exterior buttresses meet the ground very gingerly and taper towards it.

The  façade consists of two major elements: the ramp leading to the hall and the speaker’s platform. In order to increase security around the palace and to balance humidity levels during the long dry season,  a reflecting pool was built in 199. It has an overall area of 36,000 square metres (390,000 sq.ft). The main building has four floors above and one floor underground. A heliport is located by the north façade of the building.

Someother Magazine

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