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ICONIC NIEMEYER MODERNISM: Where thoughtful construction meets playful design

Built in 1951 and situated just outside of the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, Oscar Niemeyer’s Casa das Canoas is considered to be one of the most significant and quintessential examples of modernist Brazilian architecture.

Casa das Canoas embodies Oscar Niemeyer’s Brazilian Modernist roots with exemplary tropical charm, touching upon the topography and abundant nature embracing the family home, all while keeping in mind the archetypal modernist elements of the movement of which he was an iconic contributor.

The father of Brazilian Modernism

From an early age, Oscar Niemeyer was taken with the practice of architecture, beginning his career as a rather orthodox modern architect. While studying, Niemeyer became involved with a group of European Modernist architects, and only a short time later worked alongside Le Corbusier, a notable member of the movement. Although he remained a fan of the French architect throughout his career, he felt a blindness in the European’s approach towards Brazilian culture and climate, which ultimately led Niemeyer to find his own signature architectural style and consequently make a significant contribution to the movement as a whole.

A sensual approach

Niemeyer is renowned for using curved lines within his own architectural style, famously stating: “It is not the right angle that attracts me, nor the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man,” he said. “What attracts me is the free and sensual curve—the curve that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuous course of its rivers and in the bodies of its beautiful women.”

And Casa das Conoas is no exception. The third residential property the Modernist built for himself and his family, Casa das Conoas incorporates playful curves, carefully positioned on a sloped property in the Tijuca Forest. Integrated with its natural surroundings, Casa das Conoas not only acts as an escape for those within, but also in utilising curved glass walls invites occupants to look outside and take in the lush natural surroundings of the terrain. With the use of a solid, curved white roof protecting the property and its glass walls, Casa das Conoas challenges the concepts of inside and outside, all the while allowing those within the home to feel safe and secure.

A rock incorporated

Expertly using a rock as a false obstacle between the home and its accompanying pool, an element which would often feel disruptive and rather brutal, this element is incorporated into the design, creating closeness between the human, his home, and the nature that surrounds it.

Source images: Nelsonkon

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