Throw together a dream team of visionaries: an urban planner, an architect, a landscape designer and an ambitious young president. Add in the mix 30,000 tradies working around the clock for 41 months on a patch of land in the middle of a remote Brazilian savannah. You might not earn yourself a WorkSafe award, but you might just end up with a city so unique that it wins a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Brazilian President Juscelino Kubitschek knew how to get things done. His famous motto "Fifty years of progress in five" was made manifest when he oversaw the construction of a new federal capital in the space of just three years. Brasilia was founded on April 21st 1960, a new inland city that would integrate all the Brazilian regions, create jobs and stimulate the economy.
But as the saying goes, it takes many years to become an overnight success. As far back as 1823 a Brazilian politician had the idea of creating an inland capital to improve the economy but his contemporaries thought he was bananas so it never happened. It took the prophesy of a Salesian priest – who predicted a new civilisation would emerge somewhere between the 15th and 20th parallels – that Brazilian politicians reconsidered, and ended up allocating land to the new city in 1891. Then came 150 years of political debate and faff, and finally the president affectionately known as "JK" made it happen.
LA-based photographer Noah Webb was captivated by Brasilia and the architecture of Oscar Niemeyer. “When I was a kid I loved to make fictional cities out of scrap 2 x 4s and dirt clods," he writes. "The idea of creating my own theoretical city made me think about how objects work within space.” These themes are evident throughout Webb’s photography. His images of Brasilia reveal a city that looks like it’s come straight out of a sci-fi film. With clean, sharp lines and enchanting shapes, Webb documents a city that was built as a utopia by big dreamers of the 1950s.
See more of Webb’s stunning Brasilia series here.