Julian Weyer’s Tour of Mid-Century Modern Brazil

Stephen Coles

Brazilian Modernism, photography by Julian Weyer

As the content of The Mid-Century Modernist clearly suggests, my taste leans Nordic. That has a lot to do with my heritage, having been born of a Swedish mother and having lived in Stockholm for a year. But I think Scandinavia is generally where most minds travel when they think of modern design — “Danish Modern” and IKEA are now mainstream concepts — and if not Scandinavia, then certainly Germany, Italy, or the America of Eames and Nelson.

Most folks overlook the Southern Hemisphere’s contribution to modern design and architecture, and I’m as guilty as any. And so, after continually hearing how much I’d love Brazilian modernism, I went where I normally go when I want to get to know a place better: Flickr. The search led me to Julian Weyer’s rich architectural photography of Brazil — what he calls “a ‘predictable’ tour of mid-century Brazilian highlights”.

Julian Weyer

The tour illustrates the impact Oscar Niemeyer has had (and continues to have) on the country. But it also introduces laymen like myself to the beautiful landscape designs of Roberto Burle Marx who was responsible for the famous Copacabana promenade.

Born in Berlin and now living in Denmark, Weyer is an architect himself. So not only does he take great shots, but they are also nicely annotated with historical and contextual insight. I’ve selected some favorites in two galleries (1 and 2) and you can see 14 of Brazil’s most important modern buildings with his unabridged captions below.

COPAN Building, São Paulo
Architect: Oscar Niemeyer, 1951-57

Faculty af Architecture, São Paulo University
Architect: Joao Battista Vilanova Artigas, 1962-69
The entire building is simply an airy, naturally ventilated shelter, with few lateral facades, topped by what from the outside appears a massive concrete slab. The inside reveals the roof as no more than a light, translucent grid.

MASP São Paulo Museum of Art
Architect: Lina Bo Bardi, 1968

MUBE Museu Brasileiro da Escultura, São Paulo
Architect: Paulo Mendes da Rocha, 1988
Landscape: Roberto Burle Marx

Cathedral of Brasilia
Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida
Architect: Oscar Niemeyer, 1970

Casa das Canoas
Architect: Oscar Niemeyer, 1952-53
Niemeyers own home for the period, outside Rio de Janeiro

Latin America Memorial, São Paulo
Concert Hall
Architect: Oscar Niemeyer, 1987

Ministry of Defense Complex, Brasilia
Architect: Oscar Niemeyer, 1968

Cláudio Santoro National Theatre, Brasilia
Architect: Oscar Niemeyer, 1968
Landscape: Roberto Burle Marx
Sculpture-facade: Athos Bulcão

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Brasilia
Architect: Oscar Niemeyer, 1962
Landscape, indoor- & roof-gardens: Roberto Burle Marx

National Congress of Brazil, Brasilia
Senate & Chamber of deputies
Architect: Oscar Niemeyer, 1958
Landscape: Roberto Burle Marx

Government Palace
Plaza dos Tres Poderes, Brasilia
Architect: Oscar Niemeyer, 1958
Landscape: Roberto Burle Marx

Ibirapuera park, São Paulo
Biennale Exposition Pavillion
Architect: Oscar Niemeyer, 1954
Landscape: Roberto Burle Marx

Museu de Arte Contemporanea, Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro
Museum of Contemporary Art
Architect: Oscar Niemeyer, 1996

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  1. Great collection of photos. Everything is stunning

  2. 11.23.09 — Indra

    these are wonderful pictures, thanks for reminding. Jetzt will ich auch nach Rio.

  3. 11.23.09 — Carolina

    Nice to see some beautiful sights from my country on this amazing blog! I hate to be the one doing this (especially having myself such a bad English writing skills), but I have to tell you that “Paulo” (as in “São Paulo”) is written with u.
    On a different subject, this video by Atlas Sound has plenty of mid century modernist design:

  4. 11.23.09 Stephen Coles

    Thanks for the correction, Carolina! It seems my find/replace went amuck!
    Wonderful film! Though I wish the band did something more inventive than simply play over the top of an uncut public domain film. This is “American Look” from the Prelinger Archives.

  5. 11.24.09 forrestina vintage

    How wonderful are these spaces? Can’t even pick a favorite…just all so fantastic. Thanks for such an informative post and all the super photos to go with. :)

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