carlo ratti associati (CRA) has revealed designs for a 10-million square foot (1-million square meter) extension of brasilia‘s historical masterplan. developed alongside ernst&young for public real estate company, terracap, ‘BIOTIC’ will be a high-tech innovation district immersed in nature to promote outdoor working and living.

carlo ratti unveils 'BIOTIC' technology and innovation district for brasilia designboom

BIOTIC ecological park

all images by CRA-carlo ratti associati



the new district will be positioned between the modernist capital and brasilia’s national park. inspired by lúcio costa and oscar niemeyer’s UNESCO-listed masterplan of brasilia, BIOTIC reinterprets the superquadra of the ‘pilot plan’ to create a new street front. the project by CRA also centers around the principle of domesticating nature, and implements climate bioremediation to create a new hybrid environment aimed towards both social and environmental sustainability.

carlo ratti unveils 'BIOTIC' technology and innovation district for brasilia designboom

BIOTIC courtyard



the program of BIOTIC includes housing, offices, plazas, and parks, all of which are designed to engage with the modernist heritage in novel ways. the new masterplan blends the four urban scales defined by lúcio costa in the original ‘pilot plan’ to make different services and facilities more accessible. ‘the first time I visited brasilia, a friend and long-time city resident told me a long-standing joke: ‘you know what the problem of brasilia is? the district of cafés is far away from the district of sugar.’ in short, a key issue lies with the lack of mixed-use and with the strictly functional subdivision of the city according to modernist principles – which we are aiming to overcome with our plan’, says carlo ratti.

carlo ratti unveils 'BIOTIC' technology and innovation district for brasilia designboom

brasilia map



in addition to creating a truly mixed-use masterplan, the project also subdivides the iconic superquadra (or superblock) into pedestrian blocks with street fronts. this is done to protect neighborhoods from traffic and pollution and strengthen pedestrian spaces for social cohesion. by reversing the distribution of volumes on the superquadra, the plan creates streets and vibrant plazas open to social activities. the natural scale is highlighted through a green corridor that connects the nearby cerrado to the BIOTIC site.

carlo ratti unveils 'BIOTIC' technology and innovation district for brasilia




‘brasilia is a fascinating metropolis: a monumental axis and two wings that captivate you when you look at it from the plane,’ says carlo ratti, founding partner at CRA and director of the senseable city lab at the massachusetts institute of technology (MIT):however as french intellectual simone de beauvoir once said, ‘brasilia is an expanse of elegant monotony […] the street, that meeting ground of […] passers-by, of stores and houses, of vehicles and pedestrians […] does not exist in brasília and never will. our project aims to counter this proposition and bring a new vibrancy to brasilia.’

carlo ratti unveils 'BIOTIC' technology and innovation district for brasilia 




the project also envisages the possibility of outdoor office environment, thanks to brasilia’s year-round mild climate. beyond turning its vibrant alfresco restaurants and cafés into spaces for smart working, all curtain walls in the buildings open like real ‘curtains’. using digital technologies to manage sunlight, wind, and temperature, BIOTIC offers its occupants the chance to work in close contact with nature, which is scattered around plazas, pedestrian areas, shared vegetable gardens, laboratories, and retail facilities. people can seamlessly move between public and private, open and secluded areas.


‘the office buildings, hovering above the ground level, are designed for sun and wind to come in,’ says james schrader, project manager at CRA. ‘thanks to a system of openable wooden facades that can slide along the building like a curtain, the interior spaces will open to the exterior, allowing users to enjoy brasilia’s weather. this project merges the interior and exterior into one space.’



project info:


project name: BIOTIC
type: masterplan
project by: CRA-carlo ratti associati, developed in collaboration with ernst&young
client: terracap
year of development: 2017-2020

CRA team: carlo ratti, james schrader (project manager), rui guan, federico riches, chenyu xu, stephanie lee, pietro franceschini, ben johnson
CRA graphic team: gary di silvio, pasquale milieri, gianluca zimbardi

mobility consultancy: MIC-mobility in chain
sustainability strategy: LAND
engineering consultancy: Ai engineering