This mixed-use proposal tackles one block in a master plan for a new city outside Brasilia. It investigates the agency of the architect in the planning process, particularly in the context of tabula-rasa urbanism. The context becomes especially critical, given that the site finds itself against the backdrop of the tremendously controversial urban legacy of the Brazilian capital.
As a starting point, the generic city is speculated as the product of plannerly vision, engaged in a constant and sustained battle with the ‘stuff of life’ and the archi- tecture it demands. The possibility of marrying these two systems in flux then becomes the thrust of the project. Working within the constraints of a conventional development model, the project allows the planner to maintain an overarching vision while simultaneously relinquishing control to market dynamics and social conditions.
Its final form, the prototypical bar-and-mat scheme assumes a top-down role in providing an armature within which the bottom-up forces of organic city making can proliferate. In doing so, it em- braces the challenges of allowing an uninhibited informal urbanism to exist and thrive, but without turning its back to the tremendous modernist heritage of Lucio Costa’s Brasilia.