by Vanna Villa

Designed by Niemeyer in 1951 as his family home, Das Canoas House is considered one of the most significant examples of modern architecture in Brazil and is well recognized by specialists in art history as a synthesis of modern architecture and authorial self-creation that flourished in Europe and in America. Das Canoas House now is open to the public, offering visitors a permanent exhibition on Oscar Niemeyer.  The most interesting feature is the fusion of organic architecture and minimalist architecture.


As it is an obvious tribute to the Farnsworth House, Das Canoas puts geometric regularity in crisis, but does not alter the formal purity. From Mies design to Niemeyer’s Das Canoas, its possible to see the evolution of reinforced concrete into a modern building material. The flexibility of the material was newly assumed and architects began to exploit this, many years after its resistance to bending was determined.


The house is located in Canoas, in Barra de Tijuca, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro.

It was built to on the slope of a hill overlooking the bay, and suggests panoramic images of the same. Historians and art critics define the house as one of the most significant examples of modern architecture.


Niemeyer said of the matter: “My concern was to project the residence freely and to adapt it to the unevenness of the field without modification, making it into curves, so the vegetation could enter them without separation or departure from the straight line.”

“And I created the living spaces to be in a shadow, to avoid the need for curtains and allow the house to be transparent, as I preferred.”

Niemeyer’s intention was to design his residence in absolute freedom, to shape the enviroments smoothly and adapt to irregularities in the land: in this way only could he obtain the feel that the vegetation penetrated the residence.

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