Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho, a Brazilian architect, his architecture is often characterised by being spacious and exposed, mixing volumes and empty space to create unconventional patterns.
At the age of 89 Niemeyer created his greatest work:
the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum.
Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho (December 15, 1907 – December 5, 2012), known as Oscar Niemeyer
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Niemeyer was schooled at the city’s Escola Nacional de Belas Artes, and after graduating worked at his father’s typography house, as well as a draftsman for local architectural firms. In the 1930s, he interned with Lúcio Costa, with the pair collaborating on the design for the Palácio Gustavo Capanema in Rio de Janeiro. Niemeyer’s first major project was the design of a series of buildings for Pampulha, a planned suburb north of Belo Horizonte. His work, especially on the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, received critical acclaim, and drew Niemeyer international attention.
Architecture will always express the technical and social progress of the country in which it is carried out. If we wish to give it the human content that it lacks, we must participate in the political struggle.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Niemeyer became one of Brazil’s most prolific architects, designing a range of buildings both within the country and overseas. This included the design of the Edifício Copan (a large residential building in São Paulo), and a collaboration with Le Corbusier (and others) on the design of the United Nations Headquarters, which engendered invitations to teach at Yale University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Niemeyer maintained his studio in Rio de Janeiro into the 21st century. In 2002, the Oscar Niemeyer Museum complex was inaugurated in the city of Curitiba, Paraná.
In 2003, at 96, Niemeyer was called to design the Serpentine Gallery Summer Pavilion in Hyde Park, London, a gallery that each year invites a famous architect, who has never previously built in the UK, to design this temporary structure.
He was still involved in diverse projects at the age of 100, mainly sculptures and adjustments of previous works. On Niemeyer’s 100th birthday, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin awarded him the Order of Friendship.