I didn’t so much go to Brazil on holiday as on a kind of crackbrained personal fact-finding mission. I didn’t get it. I knew some things, football of course, samba, Christo Redentor, Oscar Niemeyer, the Amazon, Ipanema and Copacabana, the rainforests and favelas, but I couldn’t imagine how it all fitted together, how it all existed in one country.
Niemeyer’s modernism is democratic, architecture for the masses; spectacular, but often cheaply made, always accessible - remarkably so in the case of the Capitolio, where you can walk right up to the debating chambers and have your photograph taken with your representative.
To an Englishman more used to 24-hour rolling surveillance, Brazil’s civic openness is a dream come true.
© David Oates
This article first appeared in The Modernist issue 1 'BOLD'.