Oscar Niemeyer was born on 15th Dec 1907 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. He was Portuguese and at the age of 21, he left his school and got married to Annita Blado, an Italian girl. Also, he graduated from the National School of Fine Arts in Rio De Janeiro with BA in architecture.

Oscar Niemeyer

About The Architect

After graduation, He worked in his father’s typography house. Then he joined the architecture studio of Lucio Costa, where he was a draftsman.  Costa got the opportunity to design the headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Health in Rio De Janeiro. Also, Costa insisted Le Corbusier work with him. Initially, Oscar was not part of the team. But he made a humble request to Costa, to join the team. After that Oscar became the part of working team. There he met Le Corbusier for the first time.

Oscar Niemeyer
Headquarters of Ministry of Education and Health in Rio De Janerio

During this project, He worked closely with Le Corbusier. The style of Le Corbusier made a long-lasting impression on Oscar. Also, this change of working as well as the thinking style of Oscar impressed Costa. So he allowed him to take the lead for the projects at his firm. From there his career as an architect began.

He is known for his work on Civic Buildings for Brasilia. Also, this planned city became the capital of Brazil in 1960.

Congress Building, Brasilia, Brazil

His experimentation with reinforced concrete strongly influenced the late 20th as well as early 21st centuries. Also, he was famous for using abstract forms and curves in his design. Over his career of 78 years, he nearly worked on 600 projects.

Also read: Renzo Piano: Ecological Innovator

What are the design philosophies of Oscar Niemeyer?

Niemeyer once said ” I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard, and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. Also, the curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman. Curves make up the entire universe, the curved universe of Einstein”. Also, he added to it “My work is not about Forms Follows Function but it’s about Forms Follows Beauty or even better Form Follows Feminine.”

Oscar Niemeyer
Some Conceptual Sketches of Oscar Niemeyer

Also read: Frank Lloyd Wright – The Gifted Architect and Fantasist

What was the Design Ideology of Oscar Niemeyer?

1. Niemeyer uses to love working with abstract forms as well as curves.

 For Example- The cathedral of Brasilia.

The Cathedral is located in the Federal Republic of Brazil. The concept was simple, Church is important to society so the building has to be unique. Glass, as well as Concrete, was used to give a very unique look to the building.

The Cathedral of Brasilia
Oscar Niemeyer
Inside View of the Cathedral
Conceptual Sketches for The Cathedral
Oscar Niemeyer
Plan of The Cathedral

2. Sensual Curves in the design.

For Example- Casa Do Baile

This building is a dance hall on the shore of Pampulha lake. It was built in 1942. However, Reinforced Concrete and glass are the main construction material. Also one can see free-flowing curves though-out the planning of the building. However, these beautiful curves make the building iconic.

Casa Do Baile
Oscar Niemeyer
Curved corridor of Casa Do Baile
Conceptual Sketch of Casa Do Baile
Oscar Niemeyer
Plan of Casa Do Baile

3. He was not only famous for the revolutionary use of reinforced concrete but also for the simple structure without ornamentation

For Example- Itamaraty Palace, Brasilia

Itamaraty palace is the headquarters of Brazil’s Ministry of External Relations, in Brasilia. It was built in 1970. However, The Reinforced concrete Arches are a special feature of the building.

Itamaraty Palace, Brasilia
Oscar Niemeyer
Arches of Itamaraty Palace.
Conceptual Sketch of Itamaraty Palace
Oscar Niemeyer
Plan of Itamaraty Palace

Also read: Top 10 architectural world records that you must know.

Some of the famous works of The Architect

  • UN headquarters, New York city

He was the youngest member of the Board of Design in charge of the UN headquarters. Other members were Wallace K. Harrison, Le Corbusier, Sven Markelius, Gaston Brunfaut, etc. The construction took place in 1949-1950. The building is on 17 acres of land. Also, it has 39 floors. Construction cost $65,000,000 USD.

UN Headquarters, New York city

Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural center, Spain

The concept behind the building is very unique. He took a piece of paper and started drawing thick curve lines. Later these lines became the inspiration for the design. The curvilinear form of nature that harmonizes with the landscape inspires the architect. The structure is formed by 5 elements that complement each other.

  1. The Open Square- It is a larger open space for cultural activities.
  2. The Auditorium- The capacity is of 1000 seats. The building also has conference hall as well as theater.
  3. The Dome- It is an exhibition space
  4. The Tower- Its for sight seeing. Also, it includes restaurant and lounge.
  5. The Multipurpose Building- It includes shops, café, meeting room as well as information desk. 

The main feature of the building is the curves. Also, the use of bright colors like yellow, red, and blue reflects the influence of Neoplasticism on his work.

Oscar Niemeyer
Oscar Niemeyer International Culture Center, Spain

Niemeyer Museum

The museum is located in the city of Curitiba, Parana, Brazil. It is also known as Eye Museum. It is built up of 35000 sq.m. and more than 17000sq.m of exhibition area. The complex has two separate structures. One is the cuboid, which is an old structure. And another one is an eye-shaped tower. However, the ramp and tunnel connect both the structures.

Niemeyer Museum


  • Lenin Peace Prize- 1963
  • Pritzker Architecture Prize- 1988
  • Order of Friendship- 1988
  • Prince of Asturias Award for The Arts- 1989
  • Order of St. Gregory The Great- 1990
  • Military Order of Saint James of the Sword- 1994
  • Royal Gold Medal- 1998

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