Oscar Niemeyer Structure Almost Complete
Since his passing in 2012, Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer still has some final projects nearing completion. Most recently, it was announced that construction on the “Niemeyer Sphere,” in Leipzig, Germany, would conclude in spring 2020.
Drawn out in a sketch by Niemeyer in 2011, the design has since been carried out by the office manager of Oscar Niemeyer’s studio, Jair Velara.
The 40-foot-diameter sphere is being built on the corner of a 19th-century red brick building—also known as the Techne Sphere Leipzig, a factory site for both tram-manufacturer HeiterBlick and railway-crane manufacturer Kirow Ardelt AG.
This 40-foot-diameter sphere designed by Oscar Niemeyer is almost finished! https://t.co/BntHH1z4aV— Projectcore Inc (@ProjectcoreInc) November 17, 2019
According to reports, the sphere’s concrete shell was made using over 50 handmade wooden molds, incorporating a lattice pattern where natural light can enter the interior. In 2018, a specific liquid-crystal glass was also developed for the project so that solar glare would be reduced within the discreetly designed supporting structure.
Construction on the project began in 2017 and was expected to reach completion by the following the year. However, work was halted while crews waited for the innovative glass to be manufactured offsite.
Once completed, the sphere is to function as a cafeteria, bar and lounge.
The venture was commissioned by Techne Sphere Leipzig owner Ludwig Koehne, who said, “The more walls you have the less progress you can make as a company. You need contact with other people. Niemeyer’s pavilion is a highly original way to bring those people in.”
Back in 2017, a sphere of glass was designed to serve as a beacon for Kazakhstan’s Future Energy expo. The project was designed by Chicago-based design firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture to be reminiscent of a number of retrofuturistic designs, such as the Montreal Biodome from Expo ’67. The glass dome is 262 feet in diameter.
After the architecture firm chose the Italian company Sunglass for the job, both groups collaborated on a structure design that resulted in the choice of a rhombus shape with horizontal members.
The following year, PaintSquare Daily News highlighted its 2018 Elevation Awards nominee, Amazon Spheres, where consultancy firm TNW Inc. and architectural firm NBBJ, both of Seattle, teamed up with Tnemec Company Inc. for the exterior of Amazon’s green office spheres, a trio of glass-enclosed buildings with structural steel shells.
A few months later, in October, a ceremonial groundbreaking was held for the Madison Square Garden Sphere, which was touted as the future of live performance space, slated for Las Vegas. The project involves a collaboration between developers Madison Square Garden Company and Las Vegas Sands Corp., along with designs from Populous and an undisclosed budget.