Often associated with the practical and not the beautiful or aesthetic, concrete is surprisingly able to yield some astonishing architectural results when using creativity and skill. Using cement, cement mixers, aggregate, water, and sand, concrete can be made by almost anyone.
The common construction material can be moulded into almost any shape, allowing structures to exist in both curvilinear and stark geometric forms. Whether used for private dwellings such as David Chipperfield’s Berlin home and studio, or an entire city like Pierre Jeanneret’s Chandigarh in India, concrete is the answer. Keep reading to learn more about Oscar Niemeyer’s innovative concrete designs.
About Oscar Niemeyer
Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho, known as Oscar Niemeyer, was a Brazilian architect and considered to be one of the key figures in the development of modern architecture. He was born in December 1907, rose to prominence in the 1940s, and passed away at the age of 104 in December 2012.
He is well-known for exploring the aesthetic abilities of concrete by making it curve. His most famous designs were the civic buildings for Brasilia, a planned city that became Brazil’s capital in 1960. He also collaborated with other architects on the designs of the headquarters of the United Nations in New York. Niemeyer designed more than 500 works which are left scattered throughout America, Africa, and Europe.
Some of his most significant works include the following:
• Palácio da Alvorada
• Palácio do Planalto
• Palacio Itamaraty
• Gustavo Capenema Palace
• The Cathedral of Brasilia
• The Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum
• Edificio Copan
• Claudio Santoro National Theater
• National Congress Building
• Complexo Cultural da República
Church of Saint Francis of Assisi
Oscar Niemeyer’s design of the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi received critical acclaim and drew international attention. This was his breakthrough. The chapel is situated in the Pampulha region of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and has an organic, modern style to it. It is the first listed modern architectural monument in Brazil and consists of four undulating concrete parabolas with outdoor mosaics.
The curved lines of the church’s design enchanted artists and architects but scandalised the city’s conservative culture. The structure was completed in 1943 but was only consecrated in 1959 as the ecclesiastical authorities prohibited the chapel from providing Catholic services.
The church was seen as controversial from the beginning, with the mayor of Belo Horizonte being the patron of the project and the Archbishop of Belo Horizonte seeing it as “the devil’s bomb shelter”. Archbishop Cabral opposed both the unorthodox architecture and artistic forms, particularly the mural behind the altar which portrayed St. Francis and a dog depicting a wolf. The building was taken over by the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage. Its original form was refurbished by Oscar Niemeyer and was then consecrated in 1959.
The church’s chapel is considered the masterpiece of Niemeyer’s Modern Ensemble at Pampulha. Niemeyer experimented with reinforced concrete and created a parabolic concrete vault, a form that was only used in hangars at the time. The concrete vaults serve as the structure and the enclosure, eliminating the need for masonry.
This project became the guiding principle of Niemeyer’s later work: an architectural structure dominated by the plasticity of reinforced concrete in unconventional and striking forms.
The Palácio da Alvorada
Palácio da Alvorada (Palace of Dawn) is the official residence of the President of Brazil. It is located in the national capital of Brasilia at the margins of Paranoa Lake. The modern-styled palace was designed by Oscar Niemeyer and spearheaded by Lucio Costa between 1957 and 1958.
Oscar Niemeyer based the project on the principles of simplicity and modernity. Overall, the budget for building the beautiful Palace was 2,8 trillion dollars. It has been the residence of every Brazilian president since Juscelino Kubitschek in 1960 and has been listed as a National Heritage Site since 1987.
The building consists of 7,000 square metres and three floors: basement, landing, and second floor. Adjacent to the palace grounds is the chapel and heliport. The basement level houses the movie theatre, game room, kitchen, laundry, medical centre, and the building’s administration.
The ground floor has all the rooms required for the president to use for official receptions, including:
• Entrance hall
• Waiting room
• State room
• Dining room
• Noble room
• Music room
• Banquet room
All the rooms are decorated with luxurious and antique items such as seventeenth-century Flemish paintings by Cornelis de Heem and Jan van Huysum, or an eighteenth-century porcelain set. The library includes 3,406 literary works ranging from art and philosophy to politics and literature on the general history of Brazil and other countries.
The second floor is the residential part of the palace and has the presidential apartment consisting of four suites, two guest apartments and other private rooms. There are a total of 160 employees currently working in the Palacio da Alvorada, including secretaries, assistants, waiters, cooks, doctors, and security personnel. The Presidential Guard Battalion protects the palace complex.
Niemeyer used a combination of marble, glass, concrete, and water in his minimal material palette, creating an elegant and modern building. The marble columns’ symmetry combines with reflections in the glass façade and the surrounding water performs the role of a mirror.
The columns touch the ground at singular sharp points, giving the illusion that the building is floating above the ground. It has a distinctive façade that features a colonnade of swooping concrete elements which have been scaled down to create a cross-shaped vase.
The Edificio Copan
The Edificio Copan (Copan Building) is a 38- story residential building in downtown Sao Paulo. It has 1,160 apartments, seventy commercial establishments, and is one of the largest buildings in Brazil. It was designed by Oscar Niemeyer and he was personally responsible for the building’s famous sinuous façade.
The original idea was to create a building open to a mixed- cross-section of Brazilian society. The original project was of two buildings but ended in only one building being made. The construction of the project began in 1952 and after a few interruptions, the structure was completed in 1966. The residential building is seen as a symbol of “Modern Sao Paulo”.
The design of the building curves like a sine curve, inspiring writers, filmmakers, photographers, and other artists from all over the world. After some disagreements during the design process, Oscar Niemeyer withdrew from the project. The original design of the building had a park outside of it, a second park in an area of the first floor, and a roof-deck.
The outside park is now being used by a bank building and the first-floor park and the roof- deck are closed. Since 2014, the entire building has been covered by a blue-black drape to protect pedestrians from the structure’s loose mosaic tiles. A project to repair the Copan Building’s 72 million exterior tiles is currently under construction.
The Cathedral of Brasilia
The Cathedral of Brasilia, or the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia, is the Roman Catholic cathedral serving Brazil and serves as the seat of the Archdiocese of Brasilia. Oscar Niemeyer designed the building and Brazilian structure engineer, Joaquim Cardozo, calculated it. The cathedral was completed in May 1970 and is a hyperboloid structure, meaning its architectural structure was designed using a hyperboloid in one sheet and hyperbolic geometry for decorative effect.
The cathedral is made from 16 concrete columns, weighing 90 tons each. It has a 20-metre-tall bell tower, containing four large bells, and a 12-metre wide and 40-centimetre deep reflecting pool that surrounds the cathedral roof. The pool helps keep the cathedral cool and visitors pass under it when entering the cathedral. The cathedral of Brasilia can hold up to 4,000 people.
Its outer roof comprises sixteen pieces of fibreglass, each 10 metres wide at the base and 30 metres long, inserted between the concrete pillars. Most of the cathedral is below ground, showing only the cathedral roof, the ovoid roof of the baptistry, and the bell tower above the ground. The cathedral sees some 1, 000, 000 visitors each year.
The Cultural Complex Of The Republic
For the National Museum of Brazil, Brazilian modernist architect, Oscar Niemeyer, designed and created an extraordinary concrete structure named the Complexo Cultural da Republica (the Cultural Complex of the Republic). It is a cultural centre located along the Eixo Monumental in Brazil and features a 14,5000 square metre exhibit area, two 780- seat auditoriums, and a laboratory.
The Cultural Complex is formed by the National Museum of the Republic and the National Library of Brasilia. The building structure represents a planet embedded in the ground. It was made from concrete and the actual structure looks like a half sphere or dome in shape. It has the illusion of looking like a whole sphere due to its reflection from an adjacent pool.
The concrete building was completed in 2006 and features ramps that wind towards its entrance as well as the modular National Library. The building is mainly used to display temporary art exhibits.
BS Commercial Power Suppliers And Cement Mixers
Cement is used to make concrete. It plays a major role within the concrete mixture and affects the following important aspects of concrete:
• Compressive strength
• Drying shrinkage
Using cement mixers, cement can easily be made from limestone, clay, and marl. Once the cement is made, it is mixed with fine aggregate, coarse aggregate, water, chemical admixtures, and mineral admixtures, creating concrete.
Concrete is the most used man-made material on earth. It is used in construction for building bridges, roads, structures, pavements, drains, and dams. The material is durable, mechanically strong with high compressive strength, affordable in cost, low maintenance, fire resistant, and versatile in use. Almost anyone can use concrete to create something. All that is needed are the ingredients mentioned above and concrete mixers.
BS Power Suppliers is a Cape Town-based import and manufacturing company, offering a range of high-performance equipment for professional use in construction, agriculture, forestry, and a variety of other applications. Our organisation has 3 models of cement mixers available for purchasing.
Each of the cement mixers has a Baumax RX200 2:1 engine, an ultra-durable drum, and solid rubber wheels with bearings. The concrete mixers have a ring gear cover and an enclosed engine cabin to ensure operator safety. The cement mixers produce a total volume of either 500 litres, 400 litres, or 360 litres.
We, at BS Power Suppliers, deliver the best total solution for our customers, offering a range of equipment and expert guidance. With over 100 years of combined experience, our team knows what it takes to support professional users of commercial equipment.
Be sure to check out our website where you can find cement mixers and much more equipment. Please contact us via Whatsapp, telephone, or email should you have any queries.