(Picture courtesy of Inmigrante at flickr.com.)
His death at 104 this past week brought to mind the city of Brasilia that Niemeyer created architecturally, a city that was imposed rather than evolving like other nations’ capitols.
It is an artwork, clean and dramatic, free of the older designs that clutter other older cities.
Niemeyer: It was the drawing that led me to architecture, the search for light and astonishing forms. And I was lucky. I was working for Lucio Costa in his office, and when he was working on Brasilia, I was called to work on this. Brasilia was an adventure that was successful, a moment of optimism when people are conscious that a lot of things can be accomplished in so contradictory a world.
Unique and dramatic, the city sprang up by plan in the remote area chosen for it, and struggled to become the world focus it was planned to be, then as its population soared went through the crises of development any city faces.
The struggle to create a feeling of belonging has been explored in many writings, and I am limited by space. This is one expression of how it’s been achieved.
Niemeyer stood by his creation.
“If you go to see Brasilia, the important thing is this: you may or may not like the buildings, but you could never say you had seen something similar before. Those fine columns, the buildings like feathers touching the ground, all that creates an effect of surprise.
“I don’t take too much notice of the criticisms that people make. The project is done. Like everything else it has good points and bad points. People who criticise are either doing so out of envy or because they have nothing better to do.”
Or perhaps, it is simply too soon to tell. “Most of the places that we all adore, all of them, from Cairo to London, took either 5,000 or 6,000 years to get there, or 2,000 or 3,000 years to get there,” says Burdett.
Brasilia is only a little over 50 years old. “Let’s not be unkind. Let’s wait another 200 years and then talk about it.”
Get back to me then, okay?
(Picture courtesy of seier at flickr.com.)