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  Brasilia (Brazil)

  Fifty years ago, the spot where Brasilia now stands was nothing but cerrado(塞雷多,巴西Mina 州的一个行政区)——short scrubby forest, stretching thousands of miles in every direction. That the entire city, this modernist architectural feat, was completed in the space of just 4 years is thanks to the will of one man, former president Juscelino Kubitschek. JK was elected president in 1956 on the promise that he'd move the capital inland from Rio de Janeiro(里约热内卢)。 Other politicians had made similar promises to no avail(完全无用); the capital had even been mandated in Article 3 of the constitution of the first Brazilian republic. But few expected JK to successfully see it through.

  The site, on Brazil's high interior plateau(高原), was close to rivers and had a temperate climate. But it was literally in the middle of nowhere——over 360 miles from the nearest paved road, 75 miles from the nearest railroad, and some 115 miles from the nearest airport. JK pressed ahead, and held a competition for city plans. The winning design for the master plan was submitted by a Rio architect named Lucio Costa.

  Costa's plan incorporated some curious ideas. In a country with no auto industry, the capital was designed almost exclusively for car use. Activities like shopping, banking, even living were segregated in discrete lumps. But viewed from high above the city grid looked bold and monumental——shaped like an airplane in flight, or an arrow shooting forward into the future.

  Groundbreaking(奠基)began in 1957. Thousands of workers poured in from around the country. Living conditions were frightful. But by April 21, 1960, there was something that resembled a city enough for the grand inauguration to be held. Politicians and bureaucrats began to make the long shift inland.

  In years since, Brasilia has been a source of some controversy. For the world of urban design it embodies the limitations of rational planning; the carefully designated use zones now feel stifling, ill-equipped to address the complexity of a true city. Some Brazilians have suggested that the money borrowed to build the new capital planted the seed for the debt crisis of the early 1980s. But its status as the federal capital is secure; if nothing else, Brasilia certainly succeeded in moving the country's focus from the coast to the vast interior.

  For visitors, the attractions here are purely architectural. The city was meant to be a showcase for the country. Brazil's best designers, architects, and artists were commissioned to create the buildings and make them beautiful. A visit to Brasilia is a chance to see and judge on their success.
 

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