AD Interviews: Oscar Niemeyer

AD Interviews: Oscar Niemeyer

The last part of our Brazilian day, commemorating the 104th birthday of the renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and the launch of ArchDaily Brasil: An exclusive interview with Mr Niemeyer himself.

- How did you start your office?

My office in Copacabana -the only one that I have- was opened and organized to meet, since the early 50s, the ever growing demands.The last 13 years I have been the only architect here “at work”; the initial stage of the projects is done by me, up to the basic project, and then I trust its development by other architecture offices, specially the ones directed by my colleague and friends Jair Valera and my dear granddaughter, Ana Elisa.

- For you, what is Architecture?

In my opinion, architecture is invention. And under this prism is how I do my projects, always searching for beautiful, expressive, different and surprising solutions.

- You were very active during a time of political and social changes. Which should be the role of architects in our society?

The architect is a citizen just like any other, always open to serve any kind of program presented to him, be constantly aware of society’s need to change, to foster a fair and solidary world.

- What is the importance of innovation for your office?

Our office is constantly chasing innovation, trying to maintain my own free style of more open architecture, more personal and soft, which I have stood for over six decades. Through my drawings I have given engineers the opportunity to innovate in their field, such as my friend José Carlos Sussekind, recognized as the person responsible for the structures conceived by me in the book “Conversa de amigos” (Friend’s Conversation – Editora Revan, Rio de Janeiro).

- What is the importance of networking for you?

They have become something fundamental in our age.

- What is the importance of the Internet for your office?

I think that the Internet is more useful for my colleagues and collaborators of my office – specially the ones working in our magazine “Nosso Caminho“-. What I saying here also applies to Vera, my wife. It’s true that the people working in Jair and Ana Elisa’s office take more advantage of this worldwide network of computers than me.

- What would you reccommend to someone who wants to study Architecture?

That they never let the more technical disciplines weaken or negatively influence the creative intuition of the student. And to never underestimate the importane of reading: it’s necessary to always read, specially about subjects not related to the profession.

Whoever aspires to be an architect needs to look for an ample and critical formation, as a professional and as a citizen.

- So, how to preparare for the world after studying?

For me reading is fundamental. I have expressed this in the my book “O ser e a vida” (Being and Life), edited by my friend Renato Guimarães.

- What can you tell us after your experience starting and running an architectural practice?

I managed to build an office in Copacabana 50 years ago, and for over a decade I was the only architect. I elaborate my project, define the basic project and only then I trust it to another office to develop it – almost all the time under the direction of my granddaughter Ana Elisa and my good friend Jair Valera, as I said before.

To manage each project is something very personal, and thus, related to my decisions. Everything works very well at my office. It is a decision that looks to maintain a free architecture, lighter, focused in the search of beauty, the surprise of architecture. An architecture I have defended for a long time.

- Which is your vision about the current state of Brazilian architecture?

I am very conscious about the quality level that has been achieved by brazilian and foreign architects. Each architect must have his architecture, and to grow, in an independent way, his creative intuition and to avoid repetition.

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Cite: David Basulto. "AD Interviews: Oscar Niemeyer" 15 Dec 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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