Building
Ministry of Education
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Architect Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer
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Location Rio de Janeiro, Brazil   map
Date 1942   timeline
Building Type government offices
 Construction System concrete
Climate hot
Context urban
Style Modern
Notes Brise-soleil acrosss facade. Elevated 3 feet above sidewalk on pilotis. roof garden, mural on end wall.
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Discussion Ministry of Education Commentary

“The Ministry of Education and Health remians the single building of the past decade [built 1937-1943] which successfully attempted to express civic architecture with a contemporary technical medium. This has been achieved not only through the integration of the major arts but also by the careful development of all the structural forms, the relationship of those forms to each other, and, above all, by the way the building holds its space and takes possession of its own volume: a balance between the useful and the poetic. A space can be useful without being lyrical, that is to say without being able to create an emotional impact upon the user of that space, and a function may be fulfilled in more than one way. It is the intention of the designer which finally determines the disposition of the building’s volumes and the hierarchy of forms, producing—in the words of Le Corbusier—‘an object of poetic reacton.’…

“…The building consists of a fifteen story office space and, at right angles to it, a lower unit where an amphitheater and exhibition halls are located; the roof of the lower building is landscaped and accessible from the Minister’s suite. Continuous double hung windows, uninterrupted by any strucutral members, are used on the north and south elevations; the narrow east and west elevations, as well as the slits, are veneered with pink-grey granite. The walls of the lower building are covered with specially designed blue and white ceramic tiles; on the base of the west facade there is a mural in tiles designed by Candido Portinari.”

— from Stamo Papadaki. The Work of Oscar Niemeyer. p49.

The Creator's Words

“Architecture in Brazil, overcoming the stage of orthodox fuctionalism, is now in search of plastic expressions. It is the extreme malleability of present construction methods together with our instinctive love for the curve—a real affinity with the baroque of our colonial times—which suggests the unfettered forms of a new and amazing plastic vocabulary. Based not on whim but on contemporary technology, creatively applied to the solution of spatial problems, a true architecture emerges —a real work of art.

“The artist today is no longer the ‘misunderstood genius’ of the past century. He is a normal being who looks straight at life and at his fellow men, thoroughly aware of the problems of a contemporary society from which he had previously so completely disengaged himself. His work now acquires a truly human significance. He knows that his art is only a complement to the more fundamental issues, and this is—however strange it may seem—the source of his creative strength.”

— Oscar Niemeyer. from Stamo Papadaki. The Work of Oscar Niemeyer. p5.

Resources
Sources on Ministry of Education

Kenneth Frampton. Modern Architecture 1851-1945. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1983. ISBN 0-8478-0506-9. LC 83-61363. NA642.F7 1983. ground floor plan, p435. typical floor plan, p435.

Stamo Papadaki. The Work of Oscar Niemeyer. Second Edition. New York: Reinhold Publishing Corporation, 1951. NA859.N5P3 1954. discussion p5, 49.

Simon and Schuster Library of Contemporary Architects. Oscar Niemeyer. Photographs by Yukio Futagawa. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971. photo of north elevation, f6.

G. E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3556-2. overview photo, p159.

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