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project: protection of democracy year: 2023, type: open project program: renovation, conversion area: 118.000 m2, architecture: Opposite Office team: Benedikt Hartl location: Brasilia, Brazil

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As a reaction to the storm on the National Congress of Brazil in Brasilia by supporters of the voted out president Bolsonaro, Opposite Office designed a wall around the Congress to convert it into a fortress to protect democracy. The seat of Brazilian democracy is another symbol for democracy and political stabilization. 


Democracies have come under increasing pressure in recent years. In many countries, democracy is being decomposed by right-wing groups and enemies of democracy. In some countries this is done through extra-parliamentary groups, but in some countries enemies of democracy are already in power.


There are anti-democratic attacks and targeted attacks on democratic norms. Only about 2 years after the storming of Capitol in the USA, the storm on the National Congress of Brazil on January 9, 2022 provides the corresponding images and strengthens the narrative of the democratic crisis. But how can democracy defend itself?


With the dystopian project “Castello Congresso”, Opposite Office is showing a version of democracy that has to hide behind ever higher walls. The seat of the congress is being converted into a fortress. A layer of 1.5m solid walls is placed in front of the historical and symbolic building by Oscar Niemeyer.


Democracy sees itself as an open house. Power is by the people, but what do we do when these people are divided?


Not only Brasilia, but many countries are struggling for social cohesion. Digitization, globalization, social inequality and social networks are accelerating polarization and division. So how can democracy protect itself from these attacks? This will not work with high walls and isolation, as the dystopia of the Castello Congresso shows, but also not through moralization and social outcast. Democracy is not a fortress! The only protection of democracy lies in social justice, fair living conditions, fair wages and a real social perspective for everybody!

link to read the whole story at Dezeen

If you speak Portuguese, read the story in Casa Vogue


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