Modernism a la Brasileira

“The architecture is a matter of dreams and fantasies, of generous curves, and wide and open spaces”  Oscar Niemeyer

The celebrated Modernist Brazilian Architect, Oscar Niemeyer, is probably mostly known for designing the buildings of Brasilia. But, under my perspective, his biggest accomplishment is how he translated, in a poetic methodology, the modern principles of his master, Le Corbusier, to Brazil´s life, culture and geography.

Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Always respecting the utopian modernist ideals, he imprinted his buildings with his own free and revolutionary spirit. He used the reinforce concrete´s plasticity as a tool to accomplish sensual sinuous curves, instead of the rigid forms and lines of known Modernism. He also made the most of the properties of glass, to invite the tropical lush Brazilian landscapes, into his spaces.


Cathedral of Brasilia

His biggest project was the design of the dozens of buildings of a new capital city for Brazil: Brasilia, that was projected and built from scratch. The idea of the Brazilian government was to erect a utopic government city, that would be the face of Brazil to the world. The planning of the city was made by Lucio Costa, Niemeyer´s mentor, and he designed each one of the futuristic, sinuous buildings: the striking Cathedral, with a heavy, yet light looking structure, that simulates two hands moving towards the sky, the Palácio da Alborada, that seems to be floating over a mirror pool, and the Congress, with monumental proportions and two semi sphere-shaped buildings that represent the two chambers, and look like UFOs, to name just a few.

Congress of Brasilia

But monumental public buildings were not his only legacy: he also built residential projects, that gave him more ground to experiment. His own residence, Casa das Canoas, is considered one of the most significant examples of Brazilian modernist architecture. “I have to confess that, when I started my projects in Brasilia, I was tired of giving so many explanations. I knew that I had the experience to be free, and I didn´t care about the inevitable criticism against my projects” he said in an interview.

Casa Das Canoas

And at Casa Das Canoas, at Barra de Tijuca in Rio, he was completely free. He explained the project like this: “My intention was to project this residence with absolute freedom, adapting it to the slopes of the field without modifying it, making it in curves, in a way that the vegetation could penetrate in them, without the ostensive separation from the straight line”.

Casa Das Canoas

And just like that the subtropical surroundings is the element that stand outs: the nature here is free and is insinuated in every space of the house. Women bodies´ sculptures from Alfredo Ceschiatti, Niemeyer´s friend, finish the elegant and curvaceous theme of the building.



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