“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.” This is what once Oscar Niemeyer said in an interview and this is what exactly visible through his works.
Niemeyer is known for the advent of aesthetic possibilities out of reinforced concrete. He gave us structures having abstract forms, unconventional materials and bold ideologies, thus defining a new style of Architecture – ‘Modernism’ in the 20th and early 21st centuries. Considered to be one of the gems in the architectural history of Brazil, Oscar Niemeyer has left back around more than 500 projects across parts of America, Africa and Europe.
All of these projects differ in context to their location, style and requirement, except one thing that remains constant in all of these projects and that is a complex thought process. A thought process that translated into abstract forms creating an iconic identity to each of the projects. Oscar has been successful in rendering an imagery to his designs that no matter what stands strong in our memories. Here is a list of 15 such iconic projects by Oscar Niemeyer.
1. Oscar Niemeyer Museum, Curitiba
Portuguese name: Museu Oscar Niemeyer
Oscar Niemeyer Museum, also known as the Novo Museum is one of those structures that will completely undo the stereotypes on the ‘Imagery’ of a building. Located in Curitiba, the museum boosts of dramatic curves in white concrete, jutting out ramps and seamless glazed walls.
The form of the structure which is an art in itself depicts more of a brutalist modern style of architecture. This complex of two structures with unconventional forms is a true example of architecture allied with art.
2. The Ministry of Education & Health, Rio de Janerio
Portuguese name: Palácio Gustavo Capanema
The ministry of Education & Health, Rio de Janerio holds the pride of being the first modernist project of Brazil. It is not only Oscar who was involved with this project but also other famous Brazilian architects like Lúcio Costa, Carlos Leão, Jorge Moreira and the most prominently Swiss Architect Le Corbusier. Oscar worked closely on this project and helped in translation of the ideas between Le Corb and the others, thus making a great start to this career in modernist architecture.
This eleven storied structure was planned on the strong network of pilotis. The facade showcased deep sculptural use of brises – soleil, plate glass glazing and a monotonous grey look all over. The small park on the ground level was adorned with Modernist sculptures while the area under pilotis had Portuguese styled tiles in cubist design. The ministry of Education & Health is not just a building but a live example of Modernist visual arts.
3. The Church of Sao Francisco Assis, Pampulha
Portuguese name: Igreja de Sao Francisco de Assis
Talking of modernism and Niemeyer’s works it becomes quiet evident that modernism is not restrictive to typical features. The only thing constant in modernism is ‘innovation’. The Church of Sao Francisco Assis at Pampulha justifies this thought with its organic modern style. The free flowing concrete parabolic vault created the enclosure eliminating the need of slabs and columns or even masonry. The concrete shell, the form of the bell tower and the abstract art on the facade renders the whole structure with an unusual vibe. By means of this design Oscar not only challenged the conventional methods of construction but also the usual imagery of churches or religious places.
4. Copan Building, Sao Paulo
Portuguese name: Edificio Copan
Edificio Copan, one of the largest buildings by Brazil is a 38 storied structure with 1,160 apartments housing various sects of the Brazilian society. The design of copan created a new vertical urban space with a series of apartments stacked on to one another. While the height and the floor to ceiling windows for each apartment added to the verticality; the monotony was broken by horizontal effect created by the beige louvered concrete frames more appropriately known as brise – soleil.
Apart from the technical and design advancements, Copan also was successful in craving out an iconic niche for itself in the skyline of Sao Paulo. This is very evident with fact that Copan building still remains one of the most used images on the Sao Paulo Post cards.
5. Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of Aparecida, Brasilia
Portuguese name: Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida
When it comes to creating iconic structures, Niemeyer was a master and we can surely say that Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of Aparecida is one of his greatest master pieces. The hyperboloid structure in white concrete along with the stained glass panelled roof were designed with the abstraction of two hand like figures ascending towards the heaven. Oscar Niemeyer’s styles of experimenting with forms and shapes can be truly seen in this project right from the design of the hyperbolic columns, the massive glass roof and design of the bell tower.