08 March 2014


While in Rio de Janeiro a few weeks ago, I made a point to find a few spaces designed by Roberto Burle Marx, a very influential Brazilian modernist landscape designer, including his landscape at the Petrobras and BNDES building downtown, and Parque do Flamengo. One of his famous designs is that of the wavy sidewalk patterns on the Copacabana Beach, which was based on Portuguese pavements. Various black and white pavement patterns are now found throughout Rio.

Once again I didn't make it to his personal gardens south of Rio in Guaritiba, which is now a national historic site and apparently amazing. But I was lucky enough to have a long lunch with a woman who lives down the street from the property and who used to go to many parties and visit with Roberto.

First stop: Petrobras.

The gardens at the Petrobras are very subtle and symmetrical, almost underwhelming in a way. This is especially true because the water features have been drained to prevent mosquito breeding and disease. However, there were a few notable design elements.

The photo at the top of this post shows his pavers spaced inside of lawn. I think I learned somewhere that his use of this in designs inspired North American landscape designers to do the same. I see this all around Austin in modern landscapes.

The patio below has a wonderful pattern. Notice how none of the pavers come together to make four corners. That kind of symmetry would stop your eye and cause dissonance as you experience the pattern. We used the same design rule for our back walkway.

Here John and I are in front of a planting bed. The hill behind us is also a large Marx corporate garden at the BNDES building, which I sadly didn't get any photos of but did see a giant hummingbird with a forked tail there.

Below you can see a beautiful stone patterned patio and walkway that connects the Petrobras and BNDES buildings, with the Petrobras building on the left and the Metropolitan Cathedral on the right, evoking a Mayan pyramid.

Next stop: Parque do Flamengo.

This is one of the largest urban parks in the world, and was steps away from our apartment. It has more than 150,000 trees of 300 different species. 

I didn't take too many fotos at Flamengo, but here's one of a wavy pavement patterns specific to this park.

The same walkway with Pão de Açucar in the background.

The view from Urca which is a mountain that is halfway along the way up to Pão de Açucar. Flamengo beach and park can be seen in the middle left.

And below a couple of beautiful flowers that were blooming in Parque do Flamengo (uh, not sure why my camera decided to focus on the background instead of the foreground in that first one...dang!).


Peter Schaar said...

Great shots which take me back to Rio immediately. Loved walking around Urca (the neighborhood). It's a look at old Rio. We did visit Burle Marx's fazed and garden. It's breathtaking and utterly fascinating. Thanks again for the time - space travel machine!

Peter Schaar said...

Fazenda, not fazed. Spellcheck?

Tina said...

Interesting post--fabulous photos. I love that wavy walkway.

Rock rose said...

Their use of paving patterns adds real drama to the paths and patios. I think the first one is very similar to ashlar which is very common in England. Not exactly the same but similar. Striking. Nice trip. Now back to work!

Cindy at enclos*ure said...

Wonderful paving at Parque do Flamengo!

TexasDeb said...

Great design elements. As our summer temps climb and we (continue to) recognize how precious water is, I'm guessing more of us will need to use similar hardscape elements to please the eye in ways that won't wilt, freeze, or be attacked by deer and bugs. Thanks for sharing!

Misti said...

I'm wracking my brain on the name of the tree of the last flower...I've seen it before in Florida. Rio looks like a lovely place to visit!

Pam/Digging said...

The patterned hardscape is quite striking and different from what we see around here, where flagstone is so popular. It goes well with their dramatic natural landscape.