Patricia Rodrigues Ferreira da Silva (UCL) - 2022-23 Students

After the Future - Architecture and the Military Regime in Brazil

Brazilian modernist architecture was politically attuned since its early development. Starting in 1935 with the iconic Ministry of Education and Public Health in Rio de Janeiro and reaching a crescendo in 1960 with the new capital Brasilia, these three decades witnessed huge technological innovations, later translated into projects in all possible scales. Alongside economic and population growth, the construction of buildings, infrastructures and cities added to Brazil’s image as the ‘Land of the Future’. 

However, the ‘Cold War’ brought fears of communist threat to western capitalism. In contrast to previous euphoria, the 1960s saw coups d’état in Latin American countries endorsed by the USA that led to political instability and crisis. Brazil’s military government from 1964–85 used dubious statistics of economic growth to justify large-scale construction and territorial expansion. Yet, its political use of architecture remains unclear, as later revulsion about the dictatorship means there is still no in-depth architectural history of Brazil in this period. 

The thesis therefore analyses how Brazilian architecture responded to political shifts during the military rule, retracing the ways in which buildings, images and ideas about the built environment either contributed to shaping the vision of the country in convenience with the regime’s intentions or operated as forms of resistance. In examining this missing piece of Brazilian architectural history, the research seeks to provide an interpretation of this context as seen through the lens of architecture, as much as to investigate the relationship between design and politics. 

Primary supervisor: Prof. Murray Fraser, UCL
Secondary supervisor: Eva Branscome, UCL

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