Concrete Expression
Oscar Niemeyer


Oscar Niemeyer

©Monica Pidgeon

I would like to speak in English, it would be more natural and beautiful, but it's very difficult for me. I have to speak in Portuguese to make very clear my idea. But I can tell you something that happened to me years ago. I was in front of the Doge's Palace in Venice, and I looked this Palace so beautiful, no? - and see that the columns are so beautiful, so elaborated, supporting the big hall, and very simple, no? And I was enthused with the contrast of the columns, so elaborate, with the closed wall that they support. And I think to write a sort of dialogue, as if I was speaking with another architect. And in this dialogue I ask him "what do you think about this Palace?" and he answers "It's wonderful". "But what do you think about the columns?" He says "They're marvellous". But you don't think that the columns can be more simple and functional? And he says "Ah, naturally". But I say "Let's see, if the columns could be more simple and functional, we'll lose the contrast between these columns so rich and the facade?" And he says "Ah, that's true". And this shows that when the form, the architectural form goes to beauty and contrast, they have a function, they are functional.


Church Of S. Francisco, Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

©Oscar Niemeyer

Church in Pampulha, Belo Horizonte. This is the San Francisco church in Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, that I made forty years ago. The ceiling shows the curves that the reinforced concrete permits. The church was too modern at this time and has been closed by a long period. I made Pampulha when I was leaving school in 1940, and I tried to make the church in the accord with my ideas about concrete. I built outside all the old ideas about church architecture, and do something different in the way concrete permits. I made the curves and I tried to use some new materials, and I think it is good, the church.

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