A Decoder’s Guide to Brasília
Brasília’s division into axes, sectors, blocks, and buildings may seem incredibly logical, but translating the coded abbreviations into an address that makes sense can be as confusing as traveling to a country where only cyrillic script is used. The following are some of the acronyms that will come in most handy.
The following refer to the setores (sectors) that line both sides of the Eixo Monumental.
Asa Norte/Asa Sul The two asas (wings), Norte (North) and Sul (South), curving off of the Eixo Monumental and running parallel to the Eixo Rodoviário. The N and S indicate on which side of the Eixo Monumental an address is.
SBN/SBS (Setor Bancário Norte/Sul) banking sectors
SCN/SCS (Setor Comercial Norte/Sul) commercial office areas (adjacent to the shopping centers)
SDN/SDS (Setor de Diversões Norte/Sul) the two shopping centers (Conjunto Nacional and CONIC) on either side of the Rodoviária
SEN/SES (Setor de Embaixadas Norte/Sul) the two embassy sectors (east of the bank sectors)
SHN/SHS (Setor Hoteleiro Norte/Sul) the two hotel sectors (west of the Rodoviária)
Abbreviations in the main residential areas are as follows:
SQN/SQS (Superquadras Norte/Sul) the individual superquadras in the main residential wings of Asa Norte and Asa Sul
SHIN/SHIS (Setor de Habitações Individuais Norte/Sul) residential zones around the northern and southern banks of Lago Paranoá
CLN/CLS or SCLN/SCLS (Setor Comércio Local Norte/Sul) the commercial blocks (stores, bars, restaurants) set amid the residential superquadras
Decoding a Residential Address
Decoding a residential address can be tricky. We’ve decoded the following address below as an example.
SQN refers to superquadra north, no. 204, building B, apartment 303. The superquadra number provides the location: The first digit (2) is the position east or west of the Eixo Rodoviário (odd numbers are to the west, even numbers to the east, increasing the farther away you get from the center). The last two digits (04) are the position north or south of the Eixo Monumental. So in the case of 204, you know that the superquadra you’re looking for is 4 blocks north of the Eixo Monumental and 1 block west of the Eixo Rodoviário.
If none of this makes sense, simply write out the address on a piece of paper and let a cab driver take care of the decoding for you.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition