TheCoolist – The Modern Design Lifestyle Magazine

The Encyclopedia of Cool, Finely Curated

Architectural Brazil: 10 Breathtaking Modern Monuments

View of the covered courtyard designed by Roberto Burle Marx

When it comes to architectural photography, very few hold as much international esteem as Leonardo Finotti.  His muse is the architecture of Brazil– the works of Niemeyer, of Bardi, of Costa, of Mendes da Rocha and others.  As Brazilian architecture is amongst the world’s most progressive, most intercultural, Mr. Finotti is that creative melting pot’s most storied visual diplomat.  To celebrate Brazil’s greatest architectural monuments, we asked Leonardo Finotti himself to share with us his favorite works of Brazilian architecture.  If the country of Brazil holds a special place in your heart, you will no doubt appreciate this list of the South American nation’s 10 greatest architectural monuments.

National Congress of Brazil by Oscar Niemeyer

Overall view from west

In what building does your national congress meet?  If you take a step back, look at your national buildings with fresh eyes, they generally reflect a time far past and a symbolism long dead.  In Brazil, the renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer gave his vision to his own country’s congress with the National Congress of Brazil building.  The design yields the feeling of balanced emotion, with two opposing sides intersected by a symbol of equality.  Whether the cup is half full or half empty, it is the justice of the national congress of Brazil that provides the true balance.  Niemeyer’s vision is alive and well in the Brazilian congress of today.

National Congress of Brazil Gallery

South facade of the tower with both curves volumes on left Overall view from west Night view of the complex with the iconic white shapes and the t

Brazilian Museum of Sculpture by Paulo Mendes da Rocha

General view of the courtyard

Fans of Ayn Rand‘s classic book The Fountainhead may recognize a bit of the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture from the story of Howard Roark’s temple of humanity.  While there is no scuplture of Dominique within, this simple, concrete structure holds this South American nation’s most prized sculptural works.  What is angular and barren is accented by vibrant, shapely works of art molded into forms more imaginative than can be seen.  Da Rocha’s museum houses them perfectly, providing an unobtrusive canvas that earns an equal respect as the art held within.  [link]

Brazilian Museum of Sculpture Gallery

Overall view from west View of the ramp at the entrance General view of the courtyard

Brazil TV Tower by Lucio Costa

View of the base of the TV Tower, the platform and the three pil

Surprisingly, one of Brazil’s most recognizable and celebrated works of architecture is one that broadcasts another form of art entirely.  The Brazil TV Tower by Lucio Costa is a high standing monument to Brazilian technological achievement and a lasting artistic sensibility celebrated in architecture.  The TV Tower is one of the nation’s tallest buildings, and its progressive design remains amongst the forefront of the field whether or not its use is beginning to fall to the wayside. [link]

Brazil TV Tower Gallery

General view of the tower from the park pointing west Aerial view pointing northwest View of the base of the TV Tower, the platform and the three pil

Brazilian Ministry of Education by Oscar Niemeyer

Ministry of Education Building by Oscar Niemeyer 1

From the exterior, the Brazilian Ministry of Education may not appear as progressive as it is to the untrained eye.  To those familiar, it may be reminiscent of the early midrise works of the modern era’s most renowned architects.  Step inside, and the Brazilian Ministry of Education celebrates modern design and cultural progress that is widely respected throughout this South American nation.  A sheer glance at this building from an evening stroll, you’ll see precisely the vision that Niemeyer (and project partners Lucio Costa and Le Corbusier) had in creating this national spectacle.

Brazilian Ministry of Education Gallery

Ministry of Education Building by Oscar Niemeyer 3 Ministry of Education Building by Oscar Niemeyer 1 Ministry of Education Building by Oscar Niemeyer 2

Palacio da Alvorada by Oscar Niemeyer

Palaucio da Alvorada by Oscar Niemeyer 3

The Palacio de Alvorada is the official home of the President of Brazil.  Looks a bit different from the White House, doesn’t it?  In Brazil, their modern art is as cherished and involved in their culture as can be, setting a mark of progress in a western world bound by tradition and circumstance.  The face of Brazil’s government, the Palacio de Alvorada is where the President wines and dines dignitaries, international heads of state and other guests– proving that Brazil’s cultural sensibility is as progressive, smart and design-oriented as can be.

Palacio da Alvorada Gallery

Palaucio da Alvorada by Oscar Niemeyer 1 Palaucio da Alvorada by Oscar Niemeyer 2 Palaucio da Alvorada by Oscar Niemeyer 3

Brazil’s Civic Square by Burle Max

Brazil's Civic Square by Burle Marx 1

This work of architecture by Burle Max may not be as tall or renowned as other works by Brazil’s foremost architects, but its importance cannot be ovelrooked.  Brazil’s Civic Square is a carefully cultivated outdoor park project including mutiple acres of green space, a central pond, a set hiking path and a symbolic structure when viewed from the air.  This Civic Square almost looks like the Nazca Lines of the Inca natives, celebrated for their ancient involvement in South American history.  While the Civic Square may not be as high reaching as the others on this list, it cannot be ignored for its creative architectural value in Brazil.

Brazil’s Civic Square Gallery

Brazil's Civic Square by Burle Marx 3 Brazil's Civic Square by Burle Marx 2 Brazil's Civic Square by Burle Marx 1

Rio De Janeiro Museum of Modern Art by Afonso Reidy

Rio De Janeiro Museum of Modern Art by Afonso Reidy

If you’re heading to Rio, you cannot miss the art of the Rio De Janeiro Museum of Modern Art itself.  While what is contained within is truly a spectacle to see, the design of the MOMA in Rio demands respect unto itself.  The museum occupies two opposing design sensibilities– one of repeated concrete and another of formed metal, a design that shares the building’s stark contrasts.  Apparently, our friend Leonardo Finotti was lucky enough to capture a sky view of the museum to show it’s true nature of contrast.

Theater in Ibirapuera Park by Oscar Niemeyer

Theater in Ibirapuera Park 3

Our home city of Chicago has taken great strides to compete with the work of cities like Sao Paulo and their Theater in Ibirapuera Park.  Another work by famed architect Oscar Niemeyer, Ibirapuera Park is a wide, expansive work of architecture capable of housing a celebration a single architecture lover all the way up to a large scale wedding party.  Amongst many of Niemeyer’s public designs to be celebrated freely, Ibirapuera Park is an astonishing work of peace and progress in public architecture.

Theater in Ibirapuera Park Gallery

Theater in Ibirapuera Park 2 Theater in Ibirapuera Park 3 Theater in Ibirapuera Park 1

Ministry of External Relations by Oscar Niemeyer

Overall night view from northwest

If you’re a foreign government rep not lucky enough to be invited to the Palacio de Alvorada, you’re likely to end up at the equally beautiful Ministry of External Relations.  This ministry houses Brazil’s office of diplomacy, the branch of government which sells Brazil’s stature to the modern world.  In a place so beautiful, as designed by Niemeyer himself, you couldn’t ask for a better setting.  Niemeyer’s work provides for hard evidence that design can play an active role in world politics, and the way our globe shapes itself in cultural awareness.

Ministry of External Relations Gallery

View of the covered courtyard designed by Roberto Burle Marx Overall night view from northwest View of the sculptural staircase to the circular mezzanine

SESC Pompeia Cultural Center by Lina Bo Bardi

The SESC Pompeia Cultural Center by Lina Bo Bardi 2

Last but not least, when the citizens of the beautiful city of Sao Paulo celebrate their own culture in theater and the performing arts, they turn to the SESC Pompeia Cultural Center by Lina Bo Bardi.  Arguably Brazil’s most celebrated female architect, Lina Bo Bardi developed one of the most visually touching works of architecture in her country’s theater scene.  From natural wooden seating to stark concrete walls to colorful, creative set backdrops, Bardi’s work has made impressions on hundreds of theater goers each night.

SESC Pompeia Cultural Center Gallery

The SESC Pompeia Cultural Center by Lina Bo Bardi 1 The SESC Pompeia Cultural Center by Lina Bo Bardi 2 The SESC Pompeia Cultural Center by Lina Bo Bardi 3

Thanks so much to Leonardo Finotti for sharing his expertise, his images, his passion with TheCoolist for this feature.  If you enjoyed this read, we suggest you check out Leonardo’s blog and see more of his stunning work.  If you’d like to see more of our coverage on architecture, check out TheCoolist’s architecture category for all of our favorites.  Otherwise, check out these other top rated features on TheCoolist.com: