Oscar Niemeyer’s Masterpieces of Brasilia

Posted by // December 8th, 2012 // Architecture 1 Comment »

Earlier this week saw the sad passing of legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer who best known for his involvement in the design of Brasilia, the planned city which became the capital of Brazil in 1960. His dedicated use of reinforced concrete allowed him to sculpt previously impossible shapes and expand the boundaries of building design. This modernist form would influence a new generation of architects in the second half of the twentieth century.


Source: Sylvain Bourdos

His earliest projects in Brazil were well received and Niemeyer would be invited to the board of consultants who would create the plans for the new United Nations headquarters in New York City. In 1956 he was personally asked by President Juscelino Kubitschek to take the role of chief architect for his new city of Brasilia. Niemeyer’s friend and former boss Lúcio Costa would become chief urban planner alongside him. Niemeyer would quickly design a number of government, commercial and residential buildings with the civic buildings in particular being experimental and all instantly recognisable as his creations with their curved features. The city would be constructed and ready in just four years.

“I deliberately disregarded the right angle and rationalist architecture designed with ruler and square to boldly enter the world of curves and straight lines offered by reinforced concrete.”

Brasilia has since become a large city of 2.5 million people with over 3.7 million within the metropolitan area. By housing all three branches of the federal government, the economy of the city is dominated by the services sector including banking, communications, legal and hospitality. It’s G.D.P. per capita (approximately 30,000 U.S. dollars) is the highest of all major Latin American cities. In 1987 it became the only city that century to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its cultural heritage.

Below we feature some of Oscar Niemeyer’s most famous buildings in Brasilia. Although his body of work is extensive given he continued working past his one-hundredth birthday, it was this project that truly defined his legacy on the world of architecture.

Cultural Complex of the Republic


Source: Florian Knorn

Alvorada Palace


Source: Leonel Ponce


Source: Thum Fel

Cathedral of Brasília


Source: Mélisande*


Source: Ronaldo Lima, Jr.


Source: Rob Sinclair

National Congress of Brazil


Source: Marcelo Jorge Vieira

One Response

  1. kid_jimmy

     (post author)   says:

    i wonder what he was looking at in that photo…

    interesting architect but his communism had a huge impact on his work. brasilia is just a nicer version of east berlin, etc… an unrealistic ‘utopia’. is there anyone still there at the weekend??? everyone leaves to have fun in rio/sp


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