The most famous and oldest architect of Brazil, Oscar Niemeyer, celebrated, yesterday, December 15, his 102 birthday as he has done all his life during this occasion: working on his projects, which are still very much in demand throughout the world.
One of the world's most celebrated architects lives in Ipanema with his wife, 40 years younger than him, and still works every day in his office in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.
When he arrived to work, yesterday, at about 11 am, he was surrounded in the lobby of the building by journalists who wanted to know how he was doing in his special. The old architect can become grumpy when the subject is his birthday, something he has already called crap, commenting there is nothing fun about being old.
After a brief turmoil, Niemeyer regained his good mood and ended up giving a quick interview in his office. "Birthday to me is a day like any other, but I feel like I need to talk to you."
The architect, who was hospitalized in September and underwent two surgeries, talked about how he feel about his old age. "We look back and see so much work. Life is too complicated. I pass through it without any problems, fortunately. The man has to be fraternal. We have to look the other and walk together. I'm like the others. I don't see any special quality in me. I just worked and had some of my ideas well used, "he said.
Niemeyer's family opted for a quiet celebration. By noon, some grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great-granddaughter Camila, age 7, had come to his studio on Avenida Atlântica in front of Copacabana beach, for lunch.
Ana Lúcia, a granddaughter, said it was with great joy that the family was celebrating the birthday. "For us it's been a relief to see him get to this age so well, especially after the scare we had (the September hospitalization). He's acts like a sweetheart with his wife, smokes his cigarillos and takes his wine, without problem," she said. "He is the most important cultural fact that Brazil has had."
Niemeyer, in turn, doesn't seem impressed with his longevity and he is humble when describing his work: "I gave no contribution (to the Brazilian architecture). I just tried to be helpful. I'm no better than anyone. I have no fantasies," he conclude.
Still his work can be found all over the world. In Brazil, he designed São Paulo's Ibirapuera Park for the celebrations of the city's 400th anniversary and the Copan apartment building. In Brazilian capital Brasília, Niemeyer designed a large number of buildings including the Palácio da Alvorada (the president's residence), the National CongressÂ the city's Cathedral.