Towers of Congress, Brasilia (1962)

Oscar Niemeyer's Towers of Congress, Brasilia, photographed by Monica Pidgeon

Monica Pidgeon / RIBA Library Photographs Collection
Monica Pidgeon / RIBA Library Photographs Collection

This spectacular photograph of the Towers of Congress in Brasilia, taken from the Federal Supreme Court, is the result of a perfect marriage between the work of a great architect, Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2013), and that of a talented amateur photographer, Monica Pidgeon (1913-2009). Pidgeon, born Monica Lehmann in Chile, returned to South America in 1962, and took a number of remarkable shots of Brazil’s recently completed capital. Her interest in Brasilia had already produced an article in the November 1958 issue of Architectural Design – which Pidgeon had been editing since 1946 – featuring a discussion on the problems of capital cities between Brasilia’s chief urban planner Lucio Costa, Denys Lasdun, Peter Smithson and Arthur Korn, chair of MARS town planning sub-committee. The article was illustrated by Costa’s sketches and photographs of models of Niemeyer’s buildings, as well as two sets of plans for the reconstruction of Berlin’s city centre, one by Korn and Stephen Rosenberg and the other by Alison and Peter Smithson.