Without the foundational buildings designed by genius architect Oscar Niemeyer as inspiration, it would be difficult to conceive of artistic architectural icons Santiago Calatrava and Zaha Hadid having the freedom and success they have enjoyed in the early years of the 21st Century.
Oscar passed away on December 5th, 2012, at the age of 104. He was a Brazilian architect specialized in international modern architecture. In the 1940s, '50s and '60s "he established himself as one of Modernism's greatest luminaries, while reshaping Brazil’s identity in the popular imagination and mesmerizing architects around the globe". He is a pioneer in exploring the formal constructive possibilities of reinforced concrete for its aesthetic impact.
Toronto City Hall, by architect Viljo Revell
|“||I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman. Curves make up the entire Universe, the curved Universe of Einstein.||”|
Niemeyer eagerly accepted, designing buildings that went along with his utopian vision of government:
"This was a liberating time," he said. "It seemed as if a new society was being born, with all the traditional barriers cast aside.... When planning the government buildings for Brasilia I decided they should be characterized by their own structures within the prescribed shapes.... I tried to push the potential of concrete to its limits, especially at the load-bearing points which I wanted to be as delicate as possible so that it would seem as if the palaces barely touched the ground."
Some of the buildings Niemeyer designed in Brasilia include the President's Palace, the Brasília Palace Hotel, the Ministry of Justice building, the presidential chapel and the cathedral. After the inauguration of the new capital city in 1960, Niemeyer resigned his position as the government's chief architect and returned to private practice.
Oscar Niemeyer had become interested in Communist ideology as a youth and joined the Brazilian Communist Party in 1945. This became a serious problem in 1964, when the Brazilian military overthrew the government in a coup; Niemeyer, viewed by the army as an individual with dangerously left-wing sympathies, had his office ransacked. Spooked, the architect left the country of his birth a year later, in 1965, resettling in France and mainly designing buildings in Europe and northern Africa. He also turned to designing furniture, which also included his trademark use of sinuous curves. Niemeyer did not return to Brazil until the end of the military dictatorship in 1985.
Given the worldwide fame of his monumental projects and the plastic emphasis which Niemeyer believed were an inherent part of their program, a large portion of his work before the 1960's is usually neglected. This body of work shows Niemeyer's great ability in dealing with the human scale, addressing the building's surroundings and marrying technical and aesthetic aspects, taking into account the thermal comfort of the buildings, usually through the use of cross-ventilation and brises-soleil, which he helped to popularize.
Oscar Niemeyer, 1907-2012
21st Century Architect Santiago Calatrava
Modern Spanish Architecture: Barcelona, Bilboa, Valencia, Zaragosa
New Middle Eastern Architecture
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Source: Biography.com, wikipedia.org,