Oscar Niemeyer gracefully designed this masterpiece which blends with its surroundings and flourishes like a flower. This curvy structure personifies the lightness in its character along with pleasing panoramic views of Guanabara Bay and Sugarloaf Mountain

Niterói Contemporary Art Museum by Oscar Niemeyer: Iconic Saucer-Shaped Structure Sheet1
A ramp leading to the Museum – ©wikiarquitectura.com

The red band (the ramp) is dramatically emphasized in such a fashion that it almost looks like a link to something glorious and colossal. The whole building is in rhythm with its environment and the structure is so elegantly harmonized with nature, it looks like something sprouting from the ground. The Flying Saucer’  is what many call it because of the white concrete spreading out boldly and owning the space. Simplicity is what makes this structure feel enormously natural despite it being a giant concrete erection.

Niterói Contemporary Art Museum by Oscar Niemeyer: Iconic Saucer-Shaped Structure Sheet2
Flying Saucer – ©midcenturyhome.com

About Niteroi

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Niteroi and Rio – ©researchgate.net

Niterói is a city in Brazil near Guanabara’s Bay (Baía de Guanabara) and is connected to Rio de Janeiro through a bridge link. Oscar Niemeyer’s design of the museum exceedingly increased the city’s economy after 1996. Some call the creation of Niterói Contemporary Art Museum a ‘Bilbao Effect’ since the Guggenheim Museum held the same effect on Bilbao, Spain. Niterói regained its democratic dominion in the 1980s and hence the development of public sectors began, and soon bloomed in no time.

Cultural Significance

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View of the Museum – ©wikiarquitectura.com

Portuguese Colonial Architecture was the purest form of architectural influence that hugely transformed the overall status of Brazil. But most prominently Modern Architecture increased tourism. The love for art and visual arts emerged from major styles such as Neoclassicism, Rococo, Romanticism, Baroque, Surrealism, Modernism and many more.

Design Philosophy

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A sketch of the Museum – ©Ohio_State_University

“Field was narrow, surrounded by the Sea and the solution came naturally.” – Oscar Niemeyer.

Oscar Niemeyer believed that the most constructive and effortless solution to this project was to be achieved by following nature, and undoubtedly he proved his design strategy. According to Niemeyer, the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum emerges “from the ground” and “continuously grows and spreads” the way a delicate flower shoots out from a rock or a hard surface without creating any impossibilities.

Materials and Construction

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Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, with the typical inverted cone shape – ©iDesign.Wiki

This concrete beauty was constructed with 3.2 million m3 of concrete. The roof of the museum received waterproofing and heat treatment. Prestressed concrete was used to construct beams. Blue carpet covered the floors with an area of 3000 m2.

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MAC_Niteroi_21 – ©wikiarquitectura.com

To enhance the scenic views, triplex glass plates were manufactured which are a type of toughened and laminated glass. These 70 glass plates were exclusively manufactured for this excellent and exceptional design. Dimensions of the glass being 0.018 m (thickness), 4.8 m (long), 1.85 m (wide) which are framed with steel bars and are inclined at an angle of 40 degrees so that the visitors have a perfect field of vision as they walk in the circular pattern. It almost seemed like Oscar Niemeyer desired minimum possible visual obstructions between nature and the visitors in the Museum.

Structure

This spectacular creation is 16 m high and is approached by a ribbon-like patterned ramp which is covered in red carpet and is 98 m in length. There are 3 floors in this 50 m (diameter) saucer-shaped design which sits on a cylinder of 2.7 m (diameter). This composed geometry and material play sits in a 60 cm deep pool that has an area of 817 m2. Constructing this marvel would sure have been a challenge. The structure can withstand 400kg/m2 and can tackle winds up to 200 km/hr.

Planning and Design

Ground Floor

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Section – ©wikiarquitectura.com
Niterói Contemporary Art Museum by Oscar Niemeyer: Iconic Saucer-Shaped Structure Sheet9
Ground Floor – ©wikiarquitectura.com

The ground floor has a Bar, Restaurant, Auditorium with a capacity of 60 people and a store. The restaurant offers a horizontally operated window for connecting with nature in the best ways possible. The Audi has an area of 125 m2. It is at a level of -3.15 m from the ground level. Oscar Niemeyer’s profound knowledge and skills were creatively and efficiently executed in the design of various levels.

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Main Exhibition Hall – ©wikiarquitectura.com
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Sectional Detail of the Main Hall – ©wikiarquitectura.com

The main hall (salão principal) is 393.13 m2 and is at a level of +8.5 m from the ground. This column-free space exhibits different categories of art and artefacts.

Basement

There is also an Underground Level that holds two water tanks with a capacity of 6000 m3 each and a Power Plant.

Mezzanine

First Level

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Gallery Plan – ©wikiarquitectura.com
Niterói Contemporary Art Museum by Oscar Niemeyer: Iconic Saucer-Shaped Structure Sheet13
Sectional Detail – ©wikiarquitectura.com

The first and second levels are sprawled with artefacts with the exhibition being a total of 398.02 m2. There are a total of ten galleries on the first and second level.

Second Level

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Upper-Level Galleries – ©wikiarquitectura.com
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Section of the Gallery – ©wikiarquitectura.com

The topmost floor houses five exhibition spaces. These galleries are situated at a level +11.35m from the ground level and the exhibition spaces altogether form an area of 697.8 m2.

The Jewels Inside

 

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Raimundo Rodriguez “Latifúndios” (2014) – ©Niterói Museum
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Interior – ©Carlos Vieira
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Inside the Museum – ©Niterói Müzesi

Niteroi’s welcoming environment landed the museum with a collection of more than 1200 works from João Sattaminiand and the addition of another 350, donated by artists who conducted exhibitions in the museum including collections from Aluísio Carvão, Dionísio Del Santo and Lygia Clark. This place is a colossal constitution of contemporary art.

Oscar Niemeyer’s works substantiate his love, appreciation and admiration for nature and its elements. He has planned and designed over 500 projects in his career of 70 years as a professional and has never failed to mesmerize us with the curves. The balance of three-dimensional geometry with nature is the foundational principle of architecture. What we perceive of these undying beauties is all that matters in the future.

References

WikiArquitectura. (n.d.). Museum of Contemporary Art in Niteroi – Data, Photos & Plans. Available at: https://en.wikiarquitectura.com/building/museum-of-contemporary-art-in-niteroi/ [Accessed: 15th June 2021]

www.architectmagazine.com. (n.d.). https://www.architectmagazine.com/project-gallery/niteroi-contemporary-art-museum_o. Available at: https://www.architectmagazine.com/project-gallery/niteroi-contemporary-art-museum_o. [Accessed: 15th June 2021]

culturaniteroi.com.br. (n.d.). Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói – MAC. Available at: http://culturaniteroi.com.br/macniteroi/ [Accessed 20th June 2021].

Author

As an architecture enthusiast she takes active interest in exploring different ethnicities and tries to find a perfect medium to integrate the cultural diversities from an architect’s as well as a writer’s point of view. Pure imagination and knowledge is what she conveys through her words.

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