The iconic Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer is known for the consistently innovative buildings he has produced since the late 1930’s. He is most well known for designing the majority of the government buildings of Brazil’s capital Brasilia and for dotting the skyline of the majority of Brazil’s major cities with his modernist structures. Ten of Niemeyer’s iconic buildings are being showcased in our current project with Visionaire called “Oscar Niemeyer in 3D,” which is the first time his buildings have been captured with 3D image technology. However, with 80 years of experience and close to 100 projects under his belt, there are many more amazing structures to look at.
While Niemeyer is most well known for his public and civic architecture, one of the buildings most steeped in Niemeyer’s personal aesthetic happens to be his personal home that he built in 1953. In 2010, Niemeyer’s home in Canoas, Brazil became the Oscar Niemeyer Foundation Headquarters. Both the architecture and interior design are very evident of Niemeyer’s past and future architectural choices. The roof and walls of the house curve creating an amoeba like shape for the central structure of the house. The exterior walls are all glass, allowing for a transparency and a weightless feeling. The outdoor pool is surrounded by multiple sculptures of nude females, which act as one of Niemeyer’s biggest inspirations for his architectural forms.
The nude female form is not only repeated through architectural shapes but also on the exterior and interior walls of Niemeyer’s Theatre of Niteroi. Niemeyer has always spoken of the importance of drawing to his design process stating, “I pick up my pen. It flows. A building appears. There it is. There is nothing more to say.” Throughout the years, he has collaborated with different artists for the interiors of his buildings however, for the Theater of Niteroi, Niemeyer used his own artistic skills. On top of the distinctive placement of azulejos, he painted the abstracted female figures of three women. These figures resemble the early drawings of impressionist artists.
Along with showing his talents in both architecture and painting, Niemeyer is also famous for his furniture design. His furniture mimics the design found in his buildings. One of the most special qualities of both his architecture and furniture is the balance between functionality and innovation. The armchair pictured has both functional and practical elements. The cushions and slope of the armature are functional while the spine shows Niemeyer’s whimsical side. His architecture and furniture show a great awareness of the use of space and of practicality.
One of Niemeyer’s most prominent international site-specific works was his reinterpretation of the Serpentine Pavilion in London. Different artists and architects have annually reinvented the Serpentine Pavilion in Hyde Park for over a decade. In 2003, Niemeyer was asked to transform the pavilion. He did not use his typical medium of reinforced concrete but instead chose to use a mixture of steel, concrete, aluminum and glass. The main structure exhibits a similar curvature to his larger works and shows an openness evident of his architectural aesthetic. However, the double pointed roof is a departure from his usual designs.
Niemeyer is not simply an architect but a creator in every sense. His career has shown mastery of multiple techniques and disciplines. Up to today, Niemeyer is still dedicated to his career and to the architectural world, even at the age of 104.