Episode #5 of the course “Architects who changed the world”
A towering giant among South American architects, Brazilian-born Oscar Niemeyer has inspired international acclaim and recognition. Known as a “sculptor of monuments,” Niemeyer designed over 600 buildings around the world throughout a career that spanned nearly eight decades. His many well-known works include the highly-involved city planning and design he did around Brasilia, which became the capital of Brazil, including the Cathedral. His talent extended to outdoor spaces such as Ibirapuera Park, as well as historic buildings like the Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum. He also collaborated with one of his heroes, Le Corbusier, on the United Nations Headquarters in New York City in the US.
Cathedral of Brasilia
After over 20 years of success throughout Brazil, the civil war of the 1960s caused Niemeyer to relocate to Paris. His expatriate years were busy with other works around the world, such as the headquarters for the French Communist Party, various casinos, and industrial business buildings. He also began to experiment with furniture designs made of curved wood, bent steel, and leather. Like his buildings, his highly curvilinear furniture was inspired by the aesthetic beauty of the female form and the rolling hills around Niemeyer’s hometown of Rio de Janeiro.
Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum
A lifelong communist, Niemeyer spent time in the USSR and Cuba while in exile from Brazil. He was heavily influenced by international design elements after he returned to Brazil in 1985, where he continued to work and win acclaim, including the coveted Pritzker Prize for Architecture. After retirement, he was invited to teach in the US and at the University of Brazil. Oscar Niemeyer remained a figure in the architecture community until his death in 2012, at the age of 104 years.
Niemeyer Cultural Center, Aviles, Spain
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