RIP Oscar Niemeyer

Over a week ago, Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer died at the age of 104

I've always admired his work, especially the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and hope to visit it someday. 

Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I find his architectural designs poetic and sensual. Living in a city where the architecture is neither, I am left admiring his work from a distance and a longing to visit his buildings. Whilst I was going through a list of his work on, I was suprised to see  "1981 – Leisure Island in Abu Dhabi – UAE (Not Built)" included in the list. Oh how I'd love to see the design of this island. 

Here's a lovely tribute written by Shumon Basar for Tank magazine:

Some people not only seem immortal that actually nearly are. The Brazilian modernist architect, Oscar Niemeyer lived until he was 104 years old. News of his death, last night, seems to have ‘shocked’ many—meaning, once you get to 100, you may as well live forever. The beauty is, of course, that in a way he will. Because that’s what architecture of his sort wanted to do: transcend time and history and in effect make its own time force field around it.

An avowed Communist who also enjoyed the good life, Niemeyer was a sybaritic Le Corbusier. No tiny monastic hut for him. Instead, the sinewy curves of Brazilian women splayed on the beach in radiant sun. These curves, and those of the mountains that litter Rio, his hometown, literally ‘bent’ otherwise straight-laced and geometrically austere Modernism into something…

What is the right adjective for Niemeyer’s shapes? Sexy? Spacey? There is a sect that believes Brasilia—the city he designed as Brazil’s administrative capital—is where aliens will land one day. It’s one of the few rational ways to describe the anti-anthropomorphic scale, its abstracted distribution of flat and tall and dish-like forms. Aliens.

In Tripoli, Lebanon, I visited the huge International Fair that he designed (and never visited. He was said to hate travel.) Construction stopped when the Lebanese civil war broke out in 1975. What are left are vast concrete ruins. Standing in an unfinished dome—think Gattaca meets The Phantom Menace—I didn’t feel like I was on earth anymore. That was the genius of Niemeyer. He drew like a romantic, spoke like a humanist but built like a post-humanist.  Shumon Basar (via Tank Magazine)

I leave you with this interview with Oscar Niemeyer from a couple of years ago which I find quite touching.

An artist at heart ("I think that architecture and fine art should come together") who wanted to make work that matters ("When I'm making a building, I'm not satisfied until I know that it inspires awe, that it inspires feelings"). The interview ends with a very powerful and humbling quote, 

Life only lasts one minute. Compared to the universe, you are so small. Man is not that important. We have to be simpler.Don't think you are important, because no one is. You just have to be more useful. That's it.

RIP Oscar Niemeyer, 1907-2012.

[Video via Images are screengrabs from the video.]