with the rio olympics well underway, we take a look at some of the most eye-catching examples of modernist brazilian architecture. from oscar niemeyer to paulo mendes da rocha, see below for a roundup of distinctive projects that have come to define the country’s dynamic urban landscape.

 

 

niterói contemporary art museum by oscar niemeyer (1996)

modernist brazilian architecture
image by paulinho muniz, courtesy niterói contemporary art museum (also main image)
see more projects by oscar niemeyer on designboom here

 

 

 

across rio de janeiro’s guanabara bay, in the municipality of niterói, a 16 meter-high saucer-shaped structure sits atop a cliff that juts out to sea. the building — which houses a contemporary art museum — was completed by oscar niemeyer in 1996, when the great architect was approaching 90 years of age. the design, which has often been likened to a UFO, is entered via a spiraling ramp lined with a red carpet. internally, the circular shape of the scheme presents panoramic views across the bay, towards the city of rio and sugarloaf mountain.

 

 

 

cathedral of brasília by oscar niemeyer (1970)

modernist brazilian architecture
image © andrew prokos
see more projects by oscar niemeyer on designboom here

 

 

 

consecrated in 1970, 12 years after construction work began, the cathedral of brasília remains one of oscar niemeyer’s most recognizable works. constructed from 16 columns, the building forms a hyperboloid structure that is intended to represent two hands reaching towards the heavens. the concrete frame supports a canopy that includes a stained glass artwork created by marianne peretti. the cathedral is one of brasília’s most frequented landmarks, with nearly a million annual visitors.

 

 

 

museu nacional honestino guimarães by oscar niemeyer (2006)

modernist brazilian architecture
image © andrew prokos
see more projects by oscar niemeyer on designboom here

 

 

 

like the cathedral of brasília, the ‘museu nacional honestino guimarães’, or the national museum of brasilia, is another impressive piece of architecture found in brazil’s federal capital. again designed by oscar niemeyer, the structure was finally completed in 2006 — when the architect was 99 years old. accessed via a prominent ramp, the domed building offers 14,000 square meters of space, hosting galleries, services, and support areas.

 

 

 

hotel tambaú, joão pessoa by sergio bernardes (1962)

modernist brazilian architecture
image courtesy of tropical tambaú

 

 

 

completed by sergio bernardes in 1962, the ring-shaped ‘hotel tambaú’ borders the atlantic ocean in northeastern brazil. in total, there are 173 apartments, which either offer views out to sea or of the scheme’s enclosed internal gardens. the hotel also includes swimming pools, a wellness center, and a large auditorium with capacity for 522 people. bernardes, who passed away in 2002, worked with lucio costa and oscar niemeyer at the beginning of his career before working on a number of other successful projects.

 

 

 

brazil TV tower by lucio costa (1967)

modernist brazilian architecture
image via

 

 

 

although lucio costa is best known for his urban plan for brasília, its individual buildings are usually credited to niemeyer. however, costa was responsible for the design of the TV tower sited on the capital’s ‘eixo monumental’, or monumental axis. standing as one of the country’s tallest structures, the tower was completed in 1967 at a height of 218 meters, before a further 6 meters were added in 1987. an observation deck presents sweeping views across the city.

 

 

 

cathedral of maringá, paraná by jose augusto bellucci (1972)

modernist brazilian architecture
image by mariordo (mario roberto durán ortiz)

 

 

 

located in the southern brazilian state of paraná, the cathedral of maringá is a soaring cone-shaped structure that reaches a total height of 124 meters. standing as the tallest church in south america, architect josé augusto bellucci’s design was apparently inspired by the form and shape of the era’s soviet satellites. the cathedral is topped with a seven meter-high cross, visible from across the city.

 

 

 

SESC pompeia cultural center, são paulo by lina bo bardi (1986)

modernist brazilian architecture
SESC – fabrica da pompeia são paulo 1977-1986 © photo: markus lanz, 2014
see more projects by lina bo bardi on designboom here

 

 

 

completed in 1982, the lina bo bardi-designed ‘SESC pompéia’ is a leisure and culture complex in são paulo, which includes theaters, sports facilities, restaurants and exhibition spaces. when designing the project, bo bardi chose to retain the existing concrete factory building, reinforcing it, and infilling it with a host of public amenities. eight walkways dramatically connect the site’s two buildings, spanning gaps as wide as 25 meters.

 

 

 

patriarch plaza and viaduct do cha, sao paulo by paulo mendes da rocha (1992)

modernist brazilian architecture
image by LiaC
see more projects by paulo mendes da rocha on designboom here

 

 

 

also in são paulo, this cantilevered construction provides shelter and shade for commuters using the nearby bus station. designed by paulo mendes da rocha, and completed in 1992, the project forms part of a restructuring of the public space that allows pedestrians to connect to mass transit at an subterranean level. mendes da rocha — who won the 2006 pritzker prize — is known for his work in concrete, and has completed a number of buildings in his home city of são paulo.

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  • Stevens, I am glad you correctly said ‘eye catching’ ..rather than ‘eye pleasing’. So often, ‘just because you can’ does not reflect good judgement. It often appears as if took advantage of an immature client.

    Jim

    JimCan says:
  • Wrapping a turd in expensive materials and laying it out with diamonds doesn’t make it better, it just makes it an expensive turd. And in this case, the turd is Brazil . Insane crime, broken economy , high rates of unemployment. At least they have interesting expensive buildings

    Jaco says:

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