The Work of Oscar Niemeyer

The Work of Oscar Niemeyer

The Work of Oscar Niemeyer

The Work of Oscar Niemeyer

Excerpt

In order to appreciate fully the work of the younger architects in relation to the astonishing accomplishments of their brilliant predecessors, we believe that it is necessary to look back at the early stages of the modern architectural movement. Modern architecture, during the first quarter of the century, was metropolitan in character with urban civility as the outstanding trait. In fact, it was most natural for an architectural renovation to take place on the continental cross roads where the exchange of ideas and the impact of intellectual flow create a favorable climate for theoretical experimentations and aesthetic adventures. Piet Mondrian, reversing Cartesius' expatriation, was painting in Paris where, a little earlier, a young Pole. Apollinaire, was enriching the poetic vocabulary thanks to his abrupt initiation into the metropolitan remnants of the Victorian era. Furthermore, enterprising building contractors like Hennebique or Considere were developing revolutionary methods of construction, the reinforced concrete frame which was applicable to all types of buildings everywhere on the globe.

Such an architectural renovation, on the basis of its physical and moral surroundings, was bound to assume the general discipline of a Western way of thinking, no matter how revolutionary and seemingly disruptive with the tradition the movement was. If we disregard the sayings and slogans of the architects of that period, some of whom remain even today enfants terribles with their eagerness to shock, we could easily trace in their design approach, in the restraint and submission to strict geometrical laws, in the balance between the sensuous and the intellectual, the eighteenth century's enlightenment: from Le Corbusier and Perret, through Labrouste to Ledaux. And we may say that in the early stages of modern architecture two basic intentions became manifest: one for a new, materialistic interpretation of data, resulting in a re-evaluation of building materials and methods of construction, and another for a plastic expression within Western definitions. The garage at rue de Ponthieu (1905) by Perret, a building between two party walls, and the Swiss students' dormitory (1932) by Le Corbusier, a free standing pavilion, are designed to interpret new building methods within the some geometrical discipline.

However, the architects of that period, along with their morphological manifestations, the plastic value of which may still be a controversial topic, re-established themselves as active members in the production cycle of contemporary society; they became instrumental in again making architecture an actuality. By introducing scientific research as a due process in architecture, they were able to produce solutions to many present day problems of a social, economic or technological origin. Thus, they succeeded in arousing the enthusiasm of a younger generation of architects with a new and continuous faith in possible accomplishments. In a common effort to express the architectural reality, a voluntary mobilization of technical and artistic talent took place in many geographical latitudes, in countries with different customs and varying degrees of productivity.

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