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Journal for Geometry and Graphics 11 (2007), No. 2, 209--222
Copyright Heldermann Verlag 2007

Knowledge, Repertoire and Ruled Surfaces in Oscar Niemeyer's Architecture

Wilson Florio
Mackenzie Presbiterian University, State University of Campinas, Avenida Higienopolis 360 ap. 64, 01238000 São Paulo, Brazil

The aim of this article is to emphasize the importance of developable ruled surfaces in Niemeyer's works. Our research intends to investigate some geometrical procedures in Niemeyer's architecture and his architectural lexicon of form from the geometrical point of view, since geometry provides the means to comprehend architectural form. As a modern architect, his projects respect some values in terms of economical resources, simplicity and regular form. We analyzed case studies to understand how the architect obtains a unique form from simple geometrical sketches, based on second degree curves, the conics. We demonstrate that the 3D models of those buildings allow us to understand the geometry which underlies them.
In order to examine shape aspects of architecture through graphical analysis, we study drawings to comprehend the architect's compositional procedures. In addition, the surfaces analyzed are developable ruled surfaces, so we can unfold each surface into a two-dimensional plane. Thus, the Gaussian analysis on 3D models allows demonstrating the regularity of the surfaces. A detailed analysis indicates that Niemeyer prefered to generate 3D shapes from 2D sections. The section allows the architect to understand both the interior and exterior of the building, the spans and the structural stability of construction. Hence, the examination of the drawings permits interpreting his main proposal: how to turn sculptural form into architecture. The final results of this research are summarized in this paper through diagrams that provide a visual comprehension of the geometrical operations developed by the architect.

Keywords: Developable surface, ruled surface, design process, graphical analysis.

MSC: 51N05

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