Quotes from Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012)

  • 05 Dec 2012
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  • Architecture News Editor's Choice Quotes

To honor the great Brazilian architect , who died today, we’ve selected few of his inspiring quotes. Take a moment to read his words, which truly advocate architecture’s higher purpose, and remember the great work he accomplished…

Perhaps his most famous quote, which not only describes his work but also his way of life: “I deliberately disregarded the right angle and rationalist architecture designed with ruler and square to boldly enter the world of curves and straight lines offered by reinforced concrete. […] This deliberate protest arose from the environment in which I lived, with its white beaches, its huge mountains, its old baroque churches, and the beautiful suntanned women.”

More after the break:

On Curves

“I was attracted by the curve — the liberated, sensual curve suggested by the possibilities of new technology yet so often recalled in venerable old baroque churches.”

“My work is not about ‘form follows function,’ but ‘form follows beauty’ or, even better, ‘form follows feminine.’”

On Architecture

“Here, then, is what I wanted to tell you of my architecture. I created it with courage and idealism, but also with an awareness of the fact that what is important is life, friends and attempting to make this unjust world a better place in which to live.”

“Architecture does not change anything. It’s always on the side of the wealthy. The important thing is to believe that it can make life better.”

“Camus says in ‘The Stranger’ that reason is the enemy of imagination. Sometimes you have to put reason aside and make something beautiful.”

“I had some good opportunities. I was lucky to have had the chance to do things differently. Architecture is about surprise.”

“My ambition has always been to reduce a building’s support to a minimum. The more we diminish supporting structures, the more audacious and important the architecture is. That has been my life’s work.”

“Architecture was my way of expressing my ideals: to be simple, to create a world equal to everyone, to look at people with optimism, that everyone has a gift. I don’t want anything but general happiness. Why is that bad?”

“We hated Bauhaus. It was a bad time in architecture. They just didn’t have any talent. All they had were rules. Even for knives and forks they created rules. Picasso would never have accepted rules. The house is like a machine? No! The mechanical is ugly. The rule is the worst thing. You just want to break it.”

On Dreams and Fantasy

“Humanity needs dreams to endure misery, even if just for an instant.”

“We need to feel that life is important; we need that fantasy so we can live a little better.”

“We have to have dreams, even if they never come true.”

On Justice

“The struggle for a more just society must not be lost in time.”

Cite: Basulto, David. "Quotes from Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012)" 05 Dec 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 Dec 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=303376>