Monday, October 27, 2014
This is the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
It was designed and built in 1984 by world-renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer. The Sambardrome was commissioned by Governor Leonel Brizola as a means of providing the city with a venue for the annual Parade of Samba Schools during Carnival. The project was possible because Brazil had transitioned away from military to civil rule. The civilian government gave an amnesty to anyone who had fled the country, which allowed Niemeyer to return to Brazil in the early 1980s.
The Sambadrome was commissioned on September 5, 1983, just five months prior to Carnival.
Initially, the idea was to build the Sambadrome at Avenida Presidente Vargas, the legendary home of the Carnival parades. But Darcy Ribeiro, the Vice-Governor and close friend of Niemeyer's, successfully advocated that the venue be built at the birthplace of samba, Marquis de Sapucaí. Niemeyer was already hard at work on a host of project for the Brazilian government, which included schools, recreational venues, and housing. To accommodate Ribeiro's social program, Niemeyer designed the Sambadrome to have 115 public school classrooms under bleachers 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9.
Construction lasted just 110 days, and cost approximately $15 million. Stadium-style seating was erected on both sides of a 700-meter-wide street. A mile of standard city street led to this performance area. On March 2, 1984 -- just in time for Carnival -- the Sambadrome was dedicated.
Niemeyer designed the Sambadrome to be symmetrical, but it wasn't initially built that way. As you can see from the photo above, there were supposed to be six grandstands on either side of the standard street. But only one was built on the west side. The Sambadrome was built on the site of the old Brahma Brewing Company factory. In the rush to seize the land, the government of Brazil violated the law regarding condemnation of property. Courts held that the company had to be compensated, and the government and Brahma Brewing agreed that the west bleachers would not be built so that Brahma Brewing could construct a vast modern office building there.
In 2012, however, Braham Brewing agreed to donate its office building to the government. The west bleachers were finally built, completing Niemeyer's original design. The 104-year-old Niemeyer was on hand for the rededication. (He died just eight months later.)