The brave new world of Brasilia was a gift for 1960s photographers, as the simplified forms of Oscar Niemeyer's Capitol buildings and Cathedral combined with strong sunlight and shadow to supply any number of striking compositions. But those photos gave no sense of how the city was inhabited. 'The government élite commuted by plane from more urbane settings, while the poor ooded into the vacuum of a diagrammatic planning concept, ' says historian William Curtis. Half a century later, how has the city evolved and what is it like to live there?
There are clues in a new exhibition of photographs by John MacLean at London's Architectural Association (AA) until 23 March. MacLean wanted to make 'an intimate portrait of the city and see if people had adapted to the grandiose gestures of the architecture'. So it's the incidentals that occur between Brasilia's famous buildings that MacLean homes in on: fast-food stalls and their customers; a van stuffed with cans of Skol and coconuts; sparse vegetation sprouting from the deep red earth. As with the other cities that MacLean has pictured (see his 21 Recent Photographs), this Brasilia portrait is oblique and elliptical, but memorable too ( www. jmaclean. co. uk).
The AA's other current show presents four projects of the engineer Mutsuro Sasaki, who collaborated with Toyo Ito on the Sendai Mediathèque and is pushing the boundaries of structural possibility: his book Morphogenesis of Flux Structure appears soon from AA Publications ( www. aaschool. ac. uk).
Also new in London is Horizons of Public Housing, Madrid at the RIBA, with featured architects including David Chipperfield, Paulo Mendes da Rocha and Wiel Arets. For a review of this visit www. ajplus. co. uk/peterdavey But the main architectural opening this week is in Paris, with a new permanent display at the Pavillon de l'Arsenal. Since its foundation in 1988 the Pavillon has been a first-rate source of information on the city's architecture, with permanent and temporary shows and excellent books (such as Le Beton à Paris, AJ 27.05.99). We're nowhere near emulating this yet ( www. pavillon-arsenal. com).
For forthcoming events visit www. ajplus. co. uk/diary