about Oscar Niemeyer

OSCAR NIEMEYER (born 1907)

„Architecture consists of dreams, imagination, curves and empty rooms.“ -  that is how Oscar Niemeyer, who was born in Rio de Janeiro on December 15, 1907, sees his work. This view is reflected in his designs: curved lines, curves and the dream and the imagination to create something new.

In 1934 Oscar Niemeyer terminated his architectural studies at the „National School of Fine Arts“ in Rio de Janeiro. Right afterwards he worked at the office of Lúcio Costa. Costa had an assignment to built Brazil’s first modern building, today’s Palace of Culture. That was where Oscar Niemeyer met Le Corbusier quite early in his life. Some years later Niemeyer started to work as Le Corbusier´s personal assistant.   

This cooperation had a great impact on the works of Oscar Niemeyer: first of all Oscar Niemeyer simply added circles and curves to the strict, right-angled use of form of Le Corbusier, but later almost completely rejected it. His favourite material was reinforced concrete; but early on Oscar Niemeyer gave this material a completely new significance: futuristic, sculptural forms with a curvy and soft outline. His unconventional and often bold designs made Oscar Niemeyer one of the most important representatives of Modernism in Architecture.

Niemeyer achieved world fame by designing a whole city: all public buildings of the Brazilian planned and purpose-built capital Brasilia, which was erected between 1957 and 1964, were designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Therefore Niemeyer is the only living architect whose work has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site already in his lifetime.   

As a convinced communist Oscar Niemeyer fled to France in 1966, two years after the military’s seizure of power. In the late 1960s, amongst other things, Niemeyer taught at the university in Rio de Janeiro. But it was not until three years after the general amnesty in 1979 that he completely returned to Brazil.

Today Niemeyer is over 100 years old and still working as an architect. Throughout his life he designed and realized over 600 buildings. Oscar Niemeyer’s wife died in 2004 after 76 years of marriage. Two years later, one month prior to his 99th birthday, Niemeyer married his secretary who is 38 years younger than him.