Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer passed away last week at the tender age of 104 (he died two weeks shy of his 105th birthday). Regarded as a pioneer in the development of modern architecture, he will be primarily remembered for his design of Brasilia's civic buildings — the planned city that became Brazil's capital in 1960. Niemeyer also leaves behind an incredibly impressive portfolio of buildings and monuments that are considered absolute works of art — many of them designed with a futuristic flair. We've put together a gallery of our favorites.
Here's an excerpt from The Guardian's obituary:
The scale and invention of Niemeyer's work expanded with the growth of the Brazilian economy, and when in 1955 Kubitschek rode to power as president on a wave of trade union and Communist party votes, Niemeyer found himself on the brink of the greatest commissions of his life. The event was the realisation of a dream enshrined in the 1891 constitution, to transfer the capital from Rio to a location on the central plateau some 600 miles to the north-west and 3,000ft above sea level. The new capital would be called Brasilia, and Kubitschek decreed that it would have a population of 500,000 and would be built in four years, before his term of office expired.
In 1956 Costa won the competition for a masterplan of the new capital, and Niemeyer was commissioned to design all the principal public buildings. Within two years, the city was employing a workforce of 40,000, and an epic series of modern public buildings designed by Niemeyer was under construction. These included the Square of the Three Powers, the National Congress building (with the twin towers of the secretariat, the dome of the senate and the bowl of the lower house), the diaphanous lakeside residence of the president (better known as the Alvorada Palace), the high court, the national theatre and the endless rectangle of the Brasilia Palace hotel. Living and working in a timber cabin – the Catetinho, a national monument today – architects, engineers and even the president himself on his many visits to Brasilia, "went to the same dances and bars as the workers", according to Niemeyer.
"This was a liberating time. It seemed as if a new society was being born, with all the traditional barriers cast aside." Images of these structures, to be joined later by the foreign ministry and the circular cathedral, were published and marvelled at across the world, to this day retaining their awe-inspiring impact.
In his memoirs, The Curves of Time, published in 2000, Niemeyer declared: "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." In an interview with Architectural Record, he said, "My work is not about form follows function, but form follows beauty or, even better, form follows feminine." Niemeyer made modern architecture sensual and alluring, even in the great red desert-like plains of Brasilia, far from ocean and mountains.
Image captions and credits:
Aviles, Spain: Niemeyer Center, August 10, 2011 in Aviles. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the building offers a multidisciplinary program dedicated to the most diverse art and cultural events.
pedrosala / Shutterstock.com
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion
Procuradoria Geral da República
Source via Alamy
Niterói Contemporary Art Museum
The Copan Building, became a symbol of Sao Paulo in the 1950s. More than 5,000 people live there, it is the largest residential complex in the country.
The man himself
The Esplanade of Ministries in Brasilia.
AP Photo/Eraldo Peres/Keystone
The Museum of the Republic in Brasilia
Federal Supreme Court in Brasilia
Brasilia's Cathedral Interior
Planalto Palace, Brazil
Footbridge in Rocinha