It is interesting to see the impact an architect can bring to the landscapes of a building, a city, or maybe a country. A style that can be easily recognized everywhere you go is the legacy of Oscar Niemeyer, and his masterpieces in Belo Horizonte could not prove it any better.
In the middle of the XX century, this architect from Rio de Janeiro revolutionized modern architecture with fluid and windy curves, not only in Belo Horizonte but in different capitals of Brazil. He challenged old styles and even gravity with his outstanding use of reinforced concrete, which opened new possibilities to the current architecture, and inspired design thinking (still does).
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Oscar Niemeyer became the most prolific architect, designing residences and public buildings, as well as collaborating with foreign architects on the projects of the United Nations headquarters in New York, for example.
None of his projects were as successful as his friendship with Juscelino Kubitschek – popularly known as JK. He was one of the most charismatic presidents of Brazil; governing the country during the 1950s, he brought the face of a new era and lifestyle. His ideas were so powerful that even in the early 1940s, when he was still the mayor of Belo Horizonte, JK opened the doors of the capital, so a new architect called Oscar Niemeyer could design an architectural ensemble for Pampulha, a noble region of the capital.
That is when he designed the Church of São Francisco de Assis. The church was built in 1943 and proves how remarkable is his ability to use reinforced concrete in unusual and plastic forms. Interesting to point out that the church remained for fourteen years forbidden to worship, and some of the priests considered it pure frivolity.
Ten years after he finished the architectural ensemble of Pampulha, Niemeyer built a new masterpiece in a calm area of Belo Horizonte, near to Praça da Liberdade. The so-called Edifício Niemeyer brings references to baroque and illusionism, and that is how it amazes people with its apparent 15 floors. Actually, there are eight floors covered by curves that remind us of the mountains of Minas Gerais. It is incredible to see it among the trees, a perfect match of shapes.
We should not forget that, during the 1950s, Niemeyer had excellent ideas for buildings and designs with the full support of his friend JK. These ideas were responsible for shaping the modern capital of Brazil, Brasília.
One of the last masterpieces designed by Oscar Niemeyer was the building that hosts the official headquarters of the government of Minas Gerais. The work was completed in 2010, and the process was created in collaboration with Niemeyer’s team. Its black and white colors marked by a curvy shape are definitely admirable.
If you do not have time to check all masterpieces, at least check the Cidade Administrativa's building while you cross João Paulo II highway from the airport of Confins to Belo Horizonte. The whole career of Niemeyer can be easily seen in this masterpiece. And it is worth it.
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