Many architects enter the profession with hopes of creating something that outlives them, something that is bigger than themselves, that can advocate for a better world. Oscar Niemeyer was such an architect, one who fought for designs that would serve everyone. The master of Brazilian architecture passed away one year ago after complications from a previous kidney condition. In honor of what would have been his birthday today, we’ve rounded up a few of his masterpieces, from his elegant and curvy Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, his collaboration on the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the traditional spectacle space of his Sambadrome, the spiraling Niemeyer Center in Aviles, and the powerful parabolic expression in his Cathedral of Brasilia. Enjoy!
It’s been exactly one year since the world first mourned the passing of a great master of 20th century architecture: Oscar Niemeyer.
After 104 years of life, the renowned architect left a profound legacy. His works - known for their impressive curves, embrace of light, and profound relationship to their surroundings – made him an icon. Not just in Brazil, but the world.
“Architecture is created, ‘invented anew,’ by each man who attempts her, who roams her space, climbs a stair, rests on a balustrade, lifts his head to look, open, close a door, who sits down or gets up and makes intimate contact with – and at the same time create ‘forms’ in – the space [...] This intimate, fiery, contact, that which was perceived by man at the beginning, is today forgotten. Routine and communal places made man forget the natural beauty of “moving in space,” of his conscious movement, of those little gestures…” — Lina Bo Bardi
We’re celebrating the life and work of renowned Italian-Brazilian architect, Lina Bo Bardi, who would have turned 99 today.
Discover more about this icon and proponent of humanist modern architecture, after the break…
Location: São Paulo, Brasil
Partners: Greg Bousquet, Carolina Bueno, Olivier Rafaëlli e Guillaume Sibaud
Team: Pedro de Mattos Ferraz, Collaborators: Thiago Bicas, Ricardo Innecco, Luísa Vicentini, Sofia Saleme, Priscila Fialho, Murillo Fantinati, Natallia Shiroma, Nely Silveira
Photographs: Pedro Kok, Courtesy of Triptyque
When I was student in New York City, I would often spend hours thumbing through the titles of books at the Strand Bookstore. One day I came across Latin American Architecture Since 1945. The black and white book, written by Henry-Russell Hitchcock in 1955, showed a world of precise modernism. The buildings, situated in a tropical climate, set atop pilotis with gardens flowing in and under them, with brise soleils filtering the strong equatorial light, were perfect. I often would stare into the pages and attempt to create similar projects on my drafting board.
Fifteen years later, on a journey to Brazil, I sought out the projects that were indelibly written into my memory. I expected, or hoped, to find them as they were on the pages. But what I found instead are buildings that are used and worn, showing age like the yellowing pages of the book itself. Despite this, the buildings were very much alive. Children were kicking a ball around in the housing bar and patients were still healing in Neimeyer’s hospital. These projects were not the crisp sun drenched modernism of my imagination, but they exceeded my expectation with an unexpected vibrance.
Architects: FGMF Arquitetos
Location: São Paulo, Brasil
Authors: Fernando Forte, Lourenço Gimenes, Rodrigo Marcondes Ferraz
Collaborators: Ana Paula Barbosa, Marilia Caetano, Sonia Gouveia
Project Architects: Carolina Matsumoto, Juliana Fernandes, Raquel Engelsman
Interns: Felipe Bueno, Gabriel Mota, Gabriela Eberhardt, Patrícia Kupper, Rodrigo de Moura
Area: 275.0 m2
Photographs: Rafaela Netto
Keep an eye out, or you might miss the Museu Brasileiro de Escultura (a.k.a. MuBE, pronounced MOO-bee). Widely considered the masterpiece of Pritzker Prize-winner Paulo Mendes da Rocha, the building was in fact born out of the desire to have no building at all. When in the 1980s an empty lot in Sao Paulo’s mansion-laden Jardins district was slated to become a shopping mall, wealthy residents successfully lobbied to create a public square instead. To sweeten the deal and ensure the land stayed commercial-free, they hired Mendes de Rocha to create MuBE. Completed in 1995, the 7000-sq-meter museum hunkers down beneath ground level, thus preserving what in Sao Paulo is that rarest of luxuries: a public green space.