Nov 10, 2009
Every week we're going to post about architects that make or have made history influencing many. Nothing better to start us off than with a great Brazilian architect who has been referred to worldwide for having turned architecture into a popular subject in his country, and even today at almost 102 years of age, still continues to gift us with his work.
Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida de Niemeyer Soares Filho was born in Rio de Janeiro on December 15th, 1907. As a child he was always outlining imaginary buildings in the air with his finger and at times even correcting himself, already searching for the perfection that makes his work today.
He married young at 21 years of age, and with this new responsibility he started to work and went back to school. In 1934 he received his Architecture and Engineering diploma at the School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro.
Right after having graduated, Neimeyer, who didn't appreciate commercial architecture of the time, looked for an office where he could work with a new type of architecture, one that fit more his ideas. Without pay, he started working at the office of Lúcio Costa and Carlos Leão. In Brazil at the time, it was few who dared to reach modernism.
"Well, there were groups, three or four, I don't know, that already worked with those influences… in the line of Corbusier. We took it seriously, like a catechism. But still we hadn't "felt" the essence of his art. For me, the real influence came from talking to him… When he told me: "Architecture is invention!". That word… well… it was something very important for me."
He met Le Corbusier when he was integrated in the commission formed to define the plans of the headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Health in Rio de Janeiro where the master of modernism supervised.
His first work individually executed was the building "Obra do Berço" in Rio de Janeiro. The building was designed in reinforced concrete structure, containing the fundamental elements of modern architecture: free structure, free plan, free facade, stilts and patio.
After projects executed by the office of Lucio Costa, Niemeyer met, in 1940, the mayor of Belo Horizonte, Juscelino Kubitschek, who had an interest in developing an area north of the city. Niemeyer is responsible for designing the "Pampulha architectural complex". With a daring and controversial project at the time, show up clearly in these works, his appreciation for the arts. p>
"My concern, since the first project I did, was the integration with the arts. I think the architecture and the arts should come together" VBS TV
This project brought about an international repercussion to his name, and established an important bond with Juscelino designing his home and building the future capital of his country. But before the project of Brasilia, there were a series of outstanding works such as the headquarters of Banco Boavista, Odessa College, Copan Joint and the UN headquarters in New York, a joint project with Corbusier, among others.
“When I make a building, I am not satisfied until I know that it inspires awe, that it inspires feeling.”
The Challenge of Constructing a Capital
Building a powerful city with a short execution time, was how Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, his former boss started the project. With the modernist concepts of the city, the stage was being built with Niemeyer's artworks being implemented. Taking full advantage possible from using concrete, he created works known to the world and they transformed the city into a one of a kind experience.
"...who goes to Brasilia, may or may not like the palaces, but either way can not say they've seen something like that before. And architecture is this - invention." Oscar Niemeyer
Around the World
Niemeyer went around the world with his projects. Germany, Cuba, Lebanon, United States, Israel, Portugal, Congo, France, Algeria, Italy, Mexico, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, Bolivia, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Nicaragua, Cape Verde, Senegal, Uruguay, Norway, Russia , Spain, Chile and Venezuela, are places where you can contemplate the works of this great master of architecture.