Portuguese stones and a man’s imagination contribute to the beauty of Rio de Janeiro.
There’s more to Rio de Janeiro than the statue of Christ the Redeemer, the beaches or the Sugarloaf Mountain. During the 70s, the famous Brazilian landscape architect Burle Marx, created one of the first, finest – and biggest – pieces of street art in the city: the redesign of Copacabana’s calçadão (“big sidewalk”, in a free translation).
The geometric mosaics that spread over Copacabana’s sidewalk are composed by “Portuguese stones” (limestone and basalt), the same kind you’ll find in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital. And the inspiration from the European city is not restricted to the materials: the original wavy pattern mosaic, which is now an international symbol of Rio de Janeiro, was built in the beginning of the 20th century and has its roots in the Rossio Square.
Years later, when the local government decided to widen the avenue that borders Copacabana beach, Burle Marx was invited to review the existing design and work his magic. The waves on the sidewalk, previously perpendicular to the shoreline, were redesigned to flow in harmony with the sea, together with the new forms that were conceived by the architect.
Despite its size and importance, Burle Marx’s work goes unnoticed by many of the tourists that visit Rio, not to mention the city’s inhabitants. These pictures offer a glimpse of what those people have missed.
Photography: Bruno Veiga