Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho, or simply Oscar Niemeyer, (December 15, 1907 – December 5, 2012) was one of the greatest architects in Brazil's history, and one of the greats of the global modernist movement. After his death in 2012, Niemeyer left the world more than five hundred works scattered throughout the Americas, Africa, and Europe.
Of Le Corbusier's five points of modern architecture (the ribbon window, free design of the façade and ground plan, a roof garden, and pilotis), pilotis are perhaps the most used element in Brazilian modern architecture.
If the surest sign of summer in London is the appearance of a new pavilion in front of the Serpentine Gallery, then it’s perhaps fair to say that summer is over once the pavilion is taken down. The installations have gained prominence since its inaugural edition in 2000, acting as a kind of exclusive honor and indication of talent for those chosen to present; celebrated names from the past names include Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and Olafur Eliasson.
The unfinished Tripoli International Fair, designed by Oscar Niemeyer for the Lebanese capital, could become a UNESCO's World Heritage Site. Conceived in the 1960s at the request of the then President Fouad Chéhab, the fair remained a symbol of projected modernity for the country.
This week we have prepared a selection of photographs in which reflections in water is used as the main compositional element. In these images, the surface qualities of the water play a fundamental role in giving the composition its final effect—either acting as a perfect mirror or giving a diffuse touch. Below is a selection of 10 images from prominent photographers such as Lu Hengzhong, Yao Li, and Nico Saieh.
About a month before he unveiled his eighth album Ye in June, Kanye West re-entered architectural conversation with the unexpected and mostly unexplained announcement that he intends to hire architects and industrial designers to staff an architecture practice connected to his Yeezy brand. An outspoken fan and admirer of contemporary architecture, Kanye’s fashion and design projects have been a major focus for him since shortly after the prodigious producer started making his own rap albums. Kanye’s architectural ambitions have been an interesting factor in the relationship between architecture and rap culture, which seems to be just coming into focus through programs like the Hip Hop Architecture Camps organized by Michael Ford’s Urban Arts Collective, and the research of Sekou Cooke. Architecture and rap music have influenced each other in ways we’re just starting to notice—with the connection between the two even revealed as consciously and conspicuously as rappers including references to notable architects in their lyrics.
From the Fundación Arquia Blog, architect José Ramón Hernandez brings us an article that reflects on projects that can only be appreciated because of who they were created by. If it weren't for the fact that they bear the signature of their illustrious creator, they most likely would have gone completely unnoticed or even despised.
Let's think of a paper sheet. If we tried to stiffen it from its primary state, it couldn't support its own weight. However, if we bend it, the sheet achieves a new structural quality. The shells act in the same way. "You can't imagine a form that doesn't need a structure or a structure that doesn't have a form. Every form has a structure, and every structure has a form. Thus, you can't conceive a form without automatically conceiving a structure and vice versa".  The importance of the structural thought that culminates in the constructed object is then, taken by the relationship between form and structure. The shells arise from the association between concrete and steel and are structures whose continuous curved surfaces have a minimal thickness; thus they are widely used in roofs of large spans without intermediate supports.
In structural terms, they are efficient because they resist compression efforts and absorb at specific points on their surface, especially near the supports — small moments of flexion.
Lasting for close to two decades now, the annual Serpentine Gallery Pavilion Exhibition has become one of the most anticipated architectural events in London and for the global architecture community. Each of the previous eighteen pavilions have been thought-provoking, leaving an indelible mark and strong message to the architectural community. And even though each of the past pavilions are removed from the site after their short summer stints to occupy far-flung private estates, they continue to be shared through photographs, and in architectural lectures. With the launch of the 18th Pavilion, we take a look back at all the previous pavilions and their significance to the architecturally-minded public.
In the ambit of architecture, much of the twentieth century is marked by a production that reads, in general, as modern. The foundations of this work have been the subject of discussion for at least six decades, bringing together conflicting opinions about the true intention behind the modern gestalt.
In March 1972, an article in The Architectural Review proclaimed that this structure was “probably the best building in Paris since Le Corbusier’s Cité de Refuge for the Salvation Army.” The article was, of course, referring to Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer’s first project in Europe: the French Communist Party Headquarters in Paris, France, built between 1967 and 1980. Having worked with Le Corbusier on the 1952 United Nations Building in New York and recently finished the National Congress as well as additional iconic government buildings in Brasilia, Niemeyer was no stranger to the intimate relationship between architecture and political power.
For some practitioners of architecture, the insatiable desire to draw everything, from the largest to the smallest to take full control of the project, echoes the famous phrase uttered by Mies Van Der Rohe: "God is in the details." Similarly, designing furniture provides another creative outlet for in-depth exploration of human-scale works of architecture.
Throughout the history of the Brazilian Architecture, and especially since the modernist movement, architects not only became known for their building designs, but also for their detailed chairs and tables. Several of these pieces of furniture were initially designed for a specific project and then went into mass production due to their popularity.
The Pritzker Prize is the most important award in the field of architecture, awarded to a living architect whose built work "has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity through the art of architecture." The Prize rewards individuals, not entire offices, as took place in 2000 (when the jury selected Rem Koolhaas instead of his firm OMA) or in 2016 (with Alejandro Aravena selected instead of Elemental); however, the prize can also be awarded to multiple individuals working together, as took place in 2001 (Herzog & de Meuron), 2010 (Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA), and 2017 (Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta of RCR Arquitectes).
The award is an initiative funded by Jay Pritzker through the Hyatt Foundation, an organization associated with the hotel company of the same name that Jay founded with his brother Donald in 1957. The award was first given in 1979, when the American architect Philip Johnson, was awarded for his iconic works such as the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut.
The Pritzker Prize has been awarded for almost forty straight years without interruption, and there are now 18 countries with at least one winning architect. To date, half of the winners are European; while the Americas, Asia, and Oceania share the other twenty editions. So far, no African architect has been awarded, making it the only continent without a winner.
The name Niemeyer stands for one thing above all: curves. Whether undulating lines, soaring domes, or swooping pillars that repeat in perfect rhythm, his designs reject “the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man” in favor of “the curved Universe of Einstein,” as he wrote in his 2000 memoir The Curves of Time. Indeed, a late interview with him was headlined “the architect who eradicated the straight line.”
But what happens to an artist who becomes wedded to a certain philosophy of form and pursues it exclusively for decades; does it become restrictive? I wonder whether Niemeyer ever questioned his monogamous dedication to the curve. Perhaps a certain restlessness drove the uncharacteristically sharp-edged plan of the Tel Aviv house he designed for hotel magnate Yekutiel Federmann—or perhaps it reflects the political and personal upheaval of the moment.
As a trailblazer of Brazilian Modernism, Oscar Niemeyer is celebrated for his bold, sinuous forms, and his use of the “the liberated, sensual curve.” Paul Goldberger described it best when he wrote that “Niemeyer didn’t compromise modernism’s utopian ideals, but when filtered through his sensibility, the stern, unforgiving rigor of so much European modernism became as smooth as Brazilian jazz.”
When Georgio Mondadori, chairman of the Italian publishing house Mondadori, commissioned Niemeyer to design the company’s new headquarters in 1968, he wanted the building to look like the Itamaraty Palace (also known as Palace of the Arches) in Brasília. Niemeyer agreed, but given his playful spirit, he deliberately deviated from the earlier design and proceeded to build what he would later identify as his favorite of the projects he completed in Europe. Read on to see a striking set of sixteen photographs of the Mondadori building by Milan-based photographer and visual artist Karina Castro, who was commissioned by Mondadori to capture their headquarters over 40 years after the building's completion.
One of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer’s final designs, a 12-meter-diameter glass and concrete sphere perched on the corner of a factory building, is set to be completed in Leipzig, Germany, reports Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (Central German Broadcasting, MDR).
Paulo Mendes da Rocha is one of Brazil's most celebrated architects. And, in spite of the fact that very little of his work can be found outside São Paulo, his “Paulista Brutalism” is revered worldwide, earning him the Pritzker Prize in 2006 and, just last week, the Royal Institute of British Architects' Gold Medal. In light of the RIBA Gold Medal news, as part of his “City of Ideas” column, Vladimir Belogolovsky here shares an interview conducted with Mendes da Rocha in 2014. The interview was conducted in Mendes da Rocha's office in São Paulo with the help of Brazilian architect Wilson Barbosa Neto acting as translator, and was originally published in Belogolovsky's book, “Conversations with Architects in the Age of Celebrity.”
Vladimir Belogolovsky: In your short text "The Americas, Architecture and Nature," you say that “for Brazilians and Americans in general, the historical experience begins with the modern world. There is a difference between rebuilding old cities in Europe and building new cities in the Americas.” Could you elaborate this thought?
Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Of course, there is a difference in attitude when one builds in such a new place as Brazil or the American continent in general as opposed to Europe. The landscapes are different, cities are different, cultures are different. How can you compare St. Petersburg in Russia and Vitória, my hometown, in Brazil?
On the grounds of the Tripoli International Fair (Rashid Karameh International Exhibition Center) in Lebanon, one finds one of the five largest exhibition centers in the world . The 15 structures, designed by legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1963, remain unfinished due to the project's abandonment during the country's civil war in 1975.