Oscar Neimeyer – Discussion 18

“It is not the right angle that attracts me, nor the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. What attracts me is the free and sensual curve — the curve that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuous course of its rivers, in the body of the beloved woman.”
If there was ever an architect for whom architecture was at the foremost an art – it has to be Oscar Neimeyer. It was this belief that was reinforced with a viewing of a short documentary on this master architect this Tuesday.
Neimeyer , all of 103 today , began his career at his father’s typography studio but soon chose to study architecture engineering at Escola de Belas Artes and went on to work with Ar.Lucio Costa. Neimeyer was fascinated with the fluid character of Concrete as a material and strove to create objects of beauty. He was hence praised and criticized for being the “sculptor of monuments”.
The video shows Neimeyer at his studio explaining his sketches and describing an architect as a connoisseur of beautiful forms. He believes that the practice of architect is a continuous strive for beauty and that an architect  must constantly strive to create beautiful forms inspired from a flower , a tree – or a lovely lady.
Forming a testament to his continued affection of curves are the various buildings in Brasilia – including the famous National Congress of Brazil. The Niteroi contemporary art museum brings to fore the smooth sensuality of the curved form. The same artistic idealism can be seen in his furniture – with his inspiration ranging from the mountains of Rio De Genaro to the female form.
Towards the end of the video , Neimeyer takes a detached stance and explains , that when we stand apart to look at the larger picture , it is humbling to realize our own significance. He believes that we are , but a speck on the huge canvas of this universe. An hence – an architect must strive to increase the beauty around him – and ceaselessly create a more enriching experience for his fellow beings.
The video , however created much debate on our discussion table. A section were in gross disagreement with Neimeyer’s approach to design and were of the opinion that creation of a sculpture comes second – the primary function of the architect being the fulfillment of the functional requirements of the project. It is the function that needs to be addressed first and not the aesthetic. The entire approach of creation of a building so as to be a thing of beauty seems absurd.
Another opinion was that architecture is nothing without its art. A functional building will not amount to good architecture unless it has been conceived with the soul of an artist. Hence, approaching design with an intent to creating beauty is not entirely flawed.
However , we came to the conclusion that it is indeed the elusive perfect amalgam of functionality and aesthetics that create good architecture – and one detached from the other is only half done.
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