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Architects Who Changed the World – Oscar Neimeyer

BY BRIS ALUMINIUM IN NEWS

Neimeyer, born in Brazil in 1907 and graduated from the National School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro with a BA in Architecture in 1934. He formed a professional partnership with Lúcio Costa, an architect and urban planner, and together they worked on projects such as the headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Health and the Brazilian pavilion for the New York World’s Fair. In 1947, Neimeyer was chosen to work alongside an international team on the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Neimeyer, born in Brazil in 1907 and graduated from the National School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro with a BA in Architecture in 1934. He formed a professional partnership with Lúcio Costa, an architect and urban planner, and together they worked on projects such as the headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Health and the Brazilian pavilion for the New York World’s Fair. In 1947, Neimeyer was chosen to work alongside an international team on the United Nations headquarters in New York.

In the 1950s, Neimeyer was appointed chief building designer, and Costa the master planner, of a planned city, called Brasília to supersede Rio de Janeiro as the capital city. Today Brasília is the 4th most populous city in the Brazil and a UNESCO World Heritage site for its modernist architecture. Most of Neimeyer’s most famous buildings can be found in Brasília which have become popular tourist attractions. These include the Cathedral of Brasília, the National Congress, Palácio dos Arcos, Palácio da Alvorada and Palácio do Planalto.

Neimeyer’s curved architecture polarised opinion and was subject to both criticism and acclaim. When asked about his inspiration he freely admitted in interviews that it came from the shape of Brazilian women. “I take the single line of a woman,” he said, “then imagine a building surrounding her”. For him, straight lines were hard and inflexible which is why you’ll find many of his abstract buildings featuring splayed legs or an edge shaped like a curving hip.

After a military coup in 1964 Neimeyer moved to Paris in a self-imposed exile and widened his international focus. Throughout the late 60s and 70s, he designed such projects as the International Permanent Exhibition Centre in Lebanon, the French Communist Party headquarters in Paris and the Mondadori editorial offices in Milan. While in Paris, he also designed furniture, easy chairs and ottomans, with characteristic curves fashioned from bent wood and steel.

Neimeyer returned to Brazil in the mid-1980s where he went on to design several memorials, including the Latin American Memorial, famous for its controversial sculpture of a bleeding hand representing the oppression of Latin America.

In 1988, Neimeyer was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize at 81 years of age. At age 89 he designed the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum and at age 96 the 2003 Serpentine Gallery Summer Pavilion in Hyde Park. He was still very much involved in various projects well into his 100s and died at 104 just ten days before his 105th birthday.

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