This past Saturday (December 15th) would have been the 105th birthday for architect Oscar Niemeyer, born Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho (whew!). However, the Pritzker-Prize winning, Brazilian master architect passed away last Thursday, December 6th, due to complications from a prior kidney condition. Niemeyer was a professional who was known for seeing architecture as a higher calling, once stating that “the architect’s role is to fight for a better world, where he can produce an architecture that serves everyone and not just a group of privileged people.”
Mr. Niemeyer was praised for being a great artist and one of the greatest architects of his generation by his supporters. He was best known for his design of civic buildings in Brasília, a planned city in Brazil which eventually became the country’s national capital in 1960, and was equally known by his collaboration with other architects on the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Mr. Niemeyer’s was also popular for his exploration into the aesthetic possibilities of reinforced concrete, and it’s influential in late 20th and early 21st century architecture.
As with many individuals who explore and innovate, he was celebrated and bashed for being a “sculptor of monuments.” Niemeyer stated that his architectural style was strongly influenced by Le Corbusier, but wanted to be sure that this “didn’t prevent [his] architecture from going in a different direction”. Niemeyer was most famous for how he used the assortments of abstract forms and curves that characterize a majority of his projects, and wrote in his memoirs:
“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.”
Above is a video of the Duosegno Visual Design, a project of architecture photos and videos for the Niemeyer Center designed by Oscar Niemeyer. For a quick synopsis of the life and career of the famed and legendary architect, check out the infographic below!