Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer passed away last night in Rio de Janeiro's Samaritano hospital. He would have been 105 next 15 December. A man with a profuse, extraordinary body of work, Niemeyer worked in Brazil, Latin America and throughout the world, notably designing Brazil's capital, Brasília. In his 2000 memoir, he stated: "Here, then, is what I wanted to tell you of my architecture. I created it with courage and idealism, but also with an awareness of the fact that what is important is life, friends and attempting to make this unjust world a better place in which to live". Niemeyer's life-long affiliation to the Communist Party provoked his departure from his homeland into exile during the 1964-1985 dictatorship. He was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1988, followed by the Golden Lion at the 1996 Venice Architecture Biennale.
In 2007, a documentary directed by Fabiano Maciel approached the architect's work through a more personal lens. Titled A Vida é um Sopro ["Life is a breath"], the film opens a window into the life of a man whose firm beliefs transpired into his work. Niemeyer's creative use of the curved line alongside an expert usage of reinforced concrete allowed for a unique architectural language that gave form to utopias, helped shape the image of Brazil and project it to the world. "I deliberately disregarded the right angle and rationalist architecture designed with ruler and square," Niemeyer stated in his 2000 memoir, "to boldly enter the world of curves and straight lines offered by reinforced concrete.… This deliberate protest arose from the environment in which I lived, with its white beaches, its huge mountains, its old baroque churches, and the beautiful suntanned women."
Among the many works published in Domus, below are gathered a few: a series on Brasília in 1966, photographed by Cesare Casati; the abandoned Tripoli fairgrounds, commissioned in 1966 and interrupted due to the civil war in Lebanon, photographed recently by Pelin Tan; his first project in Spain, the Centro Niemeyer in Avilés, Asturias; the Ravello Auditorium, photographed in 2010; and finally, an interview with Atto Belloli Ardessi in 2009.
Opening photograph by Tuca Vieira