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Wednesday’s Wise Woman … Lota de Macedo Soares

August 29, 2012

While I was in Rio de Janeiro we visited the Carmen Miranda Museum which is a curious concrete bunker-like building in the corner south corner of Flamengo Park.  The park is known to Cariocas (residents of Rio de Janeiro) as O Aterro the ‘landfill.’
The park was the brainchild and obsession of the city architect Carlota (Lota) de Macedo Soares, former student of Candido Portinari. (1903-1962) She was also the girlfriend of Elizabeth Bishop the American poet.
When Brasilia became the capital of Brazil and the government moved to palatial modern premises design by Oscar Niemeyer; the city of Rio was displeased with its loss of status. By way of a consolation prize it was elevated to statehood and became the state of Guanabara.(1960-1974)
Lacerda became the first governor of the state.
At a party in his home in Flamengo to which Elizabeth and Lota were invited Lacerda asked Lota to be part of his government.  She was reluctant at first because she was not a university graduate; rather a self-taught architect.  He was not worried by her lack of academic acumen.
‘Tell me what you want.’ he said.
Lota pointed to the pile of rubble in front of the governor’s apartment.
It was a landfill site of Gloria.
‘Give me this aterro.(landfill) I will make it into a central park.’
On January 20th,1961, Lota was appointed to advise the State, the Parks Department … the Superintendency of Urbanisation and Sanitation (Sursan)  and to study the urbanisation of the surfaces arising from the Aterro of Flamengo.
However this position was not without a lot a diplomatic ‘string pulling’ on Lacerda’s part.  Although Lota was sufficiently rich to offer her services for free; Sursan were not  happy that a role in the government had been ‘found for a friend’
Lota also contracted various friends; distinguished architects and landscape designers to help with the project. After a month in February 1961, Lota wrote to the governor saying ‘The area has been rescued from the sea in Flamengo, with the rocks and earth from the Santo Antonia Hill.  The result is a two large areas that can not only be a useful public space; but a place of great beauty.
The area now requires thoughtful conservation so that its privileged landscape and sea breeze is appreciated.  Rather than a corridor for automobiles; a huge wooded area will become a landmark of the city as famous as the Sugar Loaf and the sidewalks of Copacabana.’

Rare and commonplace flowers : the story of Elizabeth Bishop and Lota de Macedo Soares

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2014 12:36 pm

    Love your photos! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  2. July 14, 2014 7:14 pm

    Thanks for dropping by mine as well…Curious about the Carmen Miranda Museum. Is this “the” Carmen Miranda and is it a museum of her belongings and memorabilia or a museum she financed that contains art or historical items?

    • July 15, 2014 8:35 am

      The Museum is full of her memorabilia; frocks hats with also videos (back to back) it is very wonderful she must have been very petite … her costumes are stunning! Sadly the museum is now closed for health and safety reasons. I you remember a year or two back a night club collapsed killing had hurting many young people. I believe the museum was built in the same way so it is at risk. I hope one day the collection will be rehoused and the wonderful lady will be celebrated again in her unique fashion!

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