Praemium Imperiale 2004


Óscar Niemeyer

Despite being one of the world’s most longevous architects, the work of Niemeyer retains an enormous capacity to seduce that has been acknowledged with a new prize, the one awarded by the Japan Art Association in the category of architecture. Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1907, Niemeyer began his career at the studio of Lucio Costa, who exerted a sort of gradual influence between the young architect and Le Corbusier, whom he considered the “founding father of contemporary architecture”. Though he has built in four continents, Brazil is the true physical and spiritual ground of his works, in the same way that Brasilia, the new Latin American Chandigarh drawn up by Costa, is the ‘holy’ city of his architecture. His career, long enough to cover two lives, experienced a turning point in 1964 after the fall of Goulart’s government, which led to his exile in France and to the beginning of a rewarding period of travel and cultural exchange. Currently, an active and demanding Niemeyer continues to work on new projects while undertaking, exclusively, the maintenance and renovation tasks of his own buildings.

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