The erotic potential of the Casino is reiterated in the much smaller Casa do Baile, a kind of outdoor nightclub. It takes up, in simplified form, the shapes of the hotel terrace, making a combination of a restaurant and a dance-hall, set directly across the lake from the more monumental Casino. Unlike the Casino, it is a calculatedly informal space, which confuses indoors and outdoors, private and public, providing a variety of spaces to frame a number of activities, from the public activity of dancing, to flirting, to (perhaps in the bushes by the lake) something more serious.

The yacht club, a short distance from the Casino, is not legible in the same erotic way as these other spaces – it is a relatively formal building with a reverse-pitch roof that recalls Le Corbusier’s Errazuriz House in Chile. The extraordinary church of Sao Francisco de Assis, however, with its bulging, asymmetrical vaults, and sudden vertical accents, is perhaps the most bodily space of all, a physical building that is much more easily legible as about the exultation of the body rather than the spirit. Niemeyer, an atheist, refused to build a confessional box, feeling that to do so would be to taint the activities his buildings framed around the rest of the lake with guilt. This, combined (perhaps) with the unconventional forms of the church, led to a drawn-out controversy involving the established Church, which refused to consecrate it until 1959, sixteen years after its completion.

The unfortunate story of the church was replicated in almost every other aspect of the development. The Casino was rendered useless almost immediately it was finished after the Federal government in Rio passed a law forbidding gambling. It lay empty until late in the 1950s, when it became a gallery of modern art, a role that it performs – badly – to the present day. Its construction too lacked the sophistication of the design, a problem common to many of Niemeyer’s buildings. Evenson reported a contemporary American architect’s shock at the kitchen on the ground floor, an afterthought budged by incompetent builders. The Casa do Baile never became commercially viable. Designed for a mostly working-class clientele, it was simply in the wrong location, a low-density suburb for the wealthy, with only poor access by public transport. The yacht club was closed for years by an infestation of a water-borne parasite, only becoming safe for leisure use in the 1960s.

These and other negative factors, including cracks in the lake dam and ongoing problems with the water supply, meant that the development entirely failed to become the commercial success that its backers envisaged.  For years, its main buildings lay empty and abandoned melancholy harbingers of an age of erotic liberation that never really came. The development looks marvelous now, although built at a low density and, like every other wealthy suburb in Brazil, patrolled by private security guards and almost entirely devoid of human life, so that it carries few, if any, of the erotic connotations it originally did. The original sketches and photographs nevertheless do still represent the original vision, and continue to represent a riposte to the puritanical and rationalist concept of modern architecture represented by the Europeans.
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