Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre
Centro Cultural Internacional Oscar Niemeyer
Centro Niemeyer
General information
Type International cultural centre
Location Avilés, Asturias, Spain
Address Avda. del Zinc
Coordinates 43°33′25″N 5°54′59″W / 43.556884°N 5.916288°W / 43.556884; -5.916288
Opened Spring 2011
Design and construction
Architect Oscar Niemeyer

The Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre or Centro Niemeyer (Spanish: Centro Cultural Internacional Oscar Niemeyer, popularly known as el Niemeyer), is a cultural centre complex designed by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and an international project. The centre is located on the estuary of Avilés, Asturias in northwest Spain. It was inaugurated on 26 May 2011.

Its imposing size and its white, red, and yellow exterior make it a highly visible landmark on the town's landscape.

Oscar Niemeyer: The origins and the design[edit]

Logo based on two of the main colours of Oscar Niemeyer's works
"An open square to humankind..."

Oscar Niemeyer, from Brasilia, Brazil, one of the most influential modernist architects in the world[1] was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Art in 1989. This was the beginning of the relationship between Niemeyer and the Principality region of Asturias. Years later, as a present for the 25th anniversary of the Awards, Niemeyer donated a project to the principality. His design has become a project meant to be an international reference in the cultural field. It is dedicated to education, culture and, peace.[2] The centre is the first work by Niemeyer in Spain, and he had said he believes it is his most important in Europe,[3] which is the reason for its name - Centro Niemeyer.


The Niemeyer Centre is formed by five main elements that complement each other:[4]

  • The open square is a large open outdoor space for cultural activities that reflects Niemeyer's idea of a place open to humankind.
  • The auditorium contains approximately 1000 seats for concerts, theatre, and conferences. It is unusual in that its seating does not distinguish between social classes. It includes the Club, a small space for concerts, and an exhibition room in the foyer.
  • The dome is the exhibition building.
  • The tower is for sight-seeing and includes a restaurant and cocktail lounge.
  • The multi-purpose building contains the film centre, meeting-rooms, cafe, shop, and information kiosk.
Multipurpose building
La grapa
Avilés estuary quay
Niemeyer Centre Panorama

Style and colours[edit]

The main feature in Niemeyer's work are the building's curves. The building's colours - mainly white, red, yellow and blue - reflect the influence of Neoplasticism on his work.[5]

Step by step[edit]

The first stone was laid on April 2008. The museum building structure was built in about an hour as a result of the use of a pioneering building techniques.[6] This allowed the whole structure to be set up in about and hour. Then the multipurpose building and the Auditorium were constructed. The materials used were mainly concrete and glass. Also during this time the base of the Tower was started, but it was not until the structures of other buildings were almost finished that the work on the Tower was visible. An underground car park was added. The Open Square was covered in white concrete. The sides of the Auditorium were painted yellow, creating a contrast with the dominant white colour on the rest of the buildings. On one of the sides of the auditorium, a ceramic art work, designed by Niemeyer, represents the outline of a woman resting. The stage door was painted red. This door can be open to the square, so that shows can take part inside or outside the building.[citation needed]

The inauguration ceremony took place in March 2011 with a video speech by Niemeyer and a jazz concert with Woody Allen in front of an audience of more than 10,000 people.[7]

Avilés Estuary
Oscar Niemeyer Cultural Center Avilés.JPG

'Niemeyer effect': impact in the post-industrial town[edit]

Apart from its cultural purposes, the Centre has an important environmental element. It is the center of a large scale urban regeneration process that will change the town's whole waterfront. It is located on an island created in the Avilés estuary, not far from the industrial area. This has helped in the regeneration process of the area.

The authorities are now planning many changes there, such as eliminating heavy traffic from the port area (where the center is located) and creating sporting and recreation areas. Also new building projects are being planned - a reflection of the Niemeyer Centre effect. This area is now called La Isla de la Innovación[8] (The Island of the Innovation).[9]

It is being developed by the Government of the Principality of Asturias and the Government of Spain. It will provide for the economic and urban regeneration of a degraded area as part of a process of industrial transformation: the Avilés estuary, situated in Asturias, northern Spain.

Niemeyer Effect[edit]

Thanks to the architecture and the cultural project, a number of artists became interested in the Centre.[10] Brad Pitt, a follower of Oscar Niemeyer’s work visited the town to see the works[11] and increased the publicity of the Asturian cultural complex. Other Hollywood stars such as Kevin Spacey, visited the town several times in collaboration with the center (premieres, conferences, and theatre plays).[12] The collaboration between different world personalities (artists, Nobel Prize winners, United Nations meetings, etc.) made Centro Niemeyer the "Spanish cultural institution with more presence in national and international media" in 2011.[13]

A year later, the area around the Centre prepared for the arrival of the first commercial cruise in Avilés' history. An Oriental Garden next to the estuary receives the arriving visitors. There are plans to create a bigger recreation port to increase tourism.[14]

The Centre has also inspired several sweets, such as: Niemeyitas, Cúpulas de Avimeyer (Avimeyer domes), etc.[15] The short film Keres by Alfonso S. Suarez was recorded at the Centre.[16] Several car companies have also used the buildings to promote their latest cars.[17] Also a fashion magazine used it as background for a photographic session in 2011.[18]

Meeting point for knowledge[edit]

Oscar Niemeyer's vision is based on three pillars: education, culture and peace. The Centre tries to be a magnet for the three elements. The Centre also tries to combine international and national events.[according to whom?]

G8 of culture[edit]

In December 2007, the Foundation organized the First Worldwide Forum of International Cultural Centres in Avilés, Asturias (also known as the G8 of Culture) with eight international cultural centers: Lincoln Center of New York (USA), Barbican Centre of London(UK), Sydney Opera House, Centre Georges Pompidou of Paris (France), Library of Alexandria, Tokyo International Forum(Japan) and Hong Kong Cultural Center (China) and the Cultural Centre Óscar Niemeyer of Asturias (Spain).[19]


The exhibition Luz by Carlos Saura was a production by Centro Niemeyer. The center co-produced Utopía by María Pagés, and, in association with other institutions, co-commissioned and produced Richard III by Sam Mendes with Kevin Spacey in the main role. This play was part of the Bridge Project between the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Old Vic Theatre in London, and the British producer Neal Street.[20] Asturias was one of the few places in the world where it was presented, adding Aviles to a list of names such as London, Naples, Istanbul, Athens, San Francisco, and New York.[21]


The Centre has organised different educational activities such as those in collaboration with the Kevin Spacey Foundation, or María Pagés. Students of different ages had the opportunity to use the meeting place for learning and activities such as performing in Broadway play.[22] It was also one of the stops of the Ruta Quetzal in 2011[23]

Film Centre[edit]

One of the permanent activities of the Niemeyer Centre will be the Film Centre. Woody Allen proposed the idea to the Principality of Asturias' Government following several visits to Asturias.[citation needed] He has publicly supported the Avilés' Centre, visiting the town and including bits of it in his first film shot in Spain (Vicky Cristina Barcelona'' 2008). In October 2008, the European Film Academy (EFA) announced that it will collaborate with the Niemeyer Centre's Film for a permanent cinema in the Multipurpose Building.[24] Seat number seven in the fifth row bears Woody Allen's name. He inaugurated the cinema in 2011.[25] There is a second seat dedicated to Volker Schlöndorff.[26] The Film Centre works on films on themes, such as the United Nations, etc., but also shows premieres, and short-films.


There are three different areas dedicated to gastronomy: the bar, the tower restaurant and the cocteleria. The Gastro restaurant provides a space where 14 guests sit around a common table and are involved in the cooking process. Famous cooks share their experience and menus there.[citation needed]


The main exhibition gallery is The Dome. There is a second, smaller gallery in the foyer of the Auditorium and sometimes in the two rooms of the Multipurpose Building.[citation needed]

Other arts[edit]

There are many different additional artistic events included in the activity of the Centre including music, theatre, and ballet.[citation needed]

Niemeyer Centre in Avilés landscape

Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre Foundation[edit]

The Fundación Centro Cultural Internacional Oscar Niemeyer Principado de Asturias was created in 2007 to manage the Niemeyer Centre's buildings and cultural projects. The Foundation develops international projects and works to set up a collaborative network. The work of the Foundation is based on three aims: education, culture and peace.[citation needed] It is hoped[according to whom?] the centre will be a magnet for talent, knowledge and creativity, as well as promoting local content. It has a strong focus on collaboration with international cultural centres.

Oscar Niemeyer is an honorary member of the Foundation.[citation needed]

The activity of the Foundation started before work on the buildings. It organized the first G8 of Culture Conference with Paulo Coelho, Alejandro Amenábar, Omar Shariff, the representation of The Tempest, etc. Damien Pwono (ASPEN Institute) said during a visit to the town, "The most important thing in culture is add the efforts of different people, and that is what Centro Niemeyer is doing, also taking an eclectic point of view. Other centers show how beautiful they are, but the Niemeyer, even without building, is real."[27]

Until the spring of 2012 the general director of the centre was Natalio Grueso.[citation needed]

Centro Niemeyer

International Advisory Board[edit]

There is also an International Advisory Board[28] of the International Cultural Centre Óscar Niemeyer. Some of its members are Stephen Hawking, Vinton Cerf, Woody Allen, Paulo Coelho, and Jose Andres.[citation needed]

The Centre also collaborated with the London School of Economics, the Instituto Cervantes, the Old Vic theatre of London (directed by Kevin Spacey) María Cristina Masaveu Foundation, Ministry of Culture (Spain) and with exhibitions exchanged with CaixaForum (La Caixa).[citation needed]

On 17 October 2008, Nigerian writer, poet and playwright Wole Soyinka, who won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, collaborated with the Niemeyer Centre. He visited Asturias in 2012 and collaborated with a conference and an exhibition.[citation needed]

Paulo Coelho at the entrance of the Palacio Valdés Theatre in Avilés, 29 May 2008


Right after its creation, the Foundation's activity bega. As a result, even before the actual buildings were finished, a lot of activities organized by the Centre took place in Avilés. Some of the activities included premieres such as Cassandra's Dream'' by Woody Allen,[29] the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho in the Palacio Valdés Theatre an event also transmitted over the Internet,[30] the visits of Fatema Mernissi in June 2008, Wole Soyinka, Vinton Cerf, Omar Sharif, the concerts of Barbara Hendricks, Joan Manuel Serrat, etc.[citation needed] Also the first stages of collaboration with the Old Vic Theatre of London took place at that time.[31]

Impact of the inaugural programme[edit]

During the spring of 2011 the announcement of the inaugural programme created a lot of expectation. 10,000 people attended a performance by Woody Allen and The New Orleans Jazz Band.[citation needed] The first exhibitions were associated with personalities such as Jessica Lange and Julian Schnabel, etc. The activities programme is on the Centre's agenda, including exhibitions, concerts, etc. These activities have brought the Centro Niemeyer of Asturias national and international media coverage.[citation needed]


The architectural project received the following awards:

  • Best National Project at Barcelona Meeting Point (2010)[32]
  • Best Urban Development Project at Éxito Empresarial en Asturias Awards(2010)[33]
  • Icono de la Asturias de hoy (chosen by the readers of El Comercio newspaper(2011)[34]
  • II Premio en la categoría placa de yeso laminado en el VIII Saint-Gobain Gypsum International Trophy Awards. (June 2012) 2012[35]

It also received an award for its cultural contribution:

  • Premio del Público del Festival de Jeréz 2012 (Jerez Festival Audience Prize) to UTOPÍA de María Pagés (coproduced by Centro Niemeyer)[36]

Citizens movement: I Support Centro Niemeyer[edit]

After the regional elections in 2011 there were political differences that affected the center. At this stage, a citizens' movement known as YO APOYO AL CENTRO CULTURAL INTERNACIONAL OSCAR NIEMEYER (I support Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre) began.[citation needed] This movement was open to anyone who supported what the Centro Niemeyer had represented both culturally and economically for the town and the region, leaving aside political ideologies. As any citizens' movement, it had to prove its political independence.[37]

The budget for the centre was not renewed and the Foundation was unable to continue managing the center. On 15 December 2011, the center was closed and all its employees were laid off.[38] A month later it reopened, for a few months, under a different name and project. Through demonstrations, online signature campaigns, articles in the press, manifestos, and cultural events (some of which appeared on national an international media),[39]) the movement tried to support and restart the original project. Members of the movement met with different political parties, trade unions and businesses.[40] During this period, different personalities from popular culture and journalism supported the Centro Niemeyer through social networks, signing manifestos,[41] etc.

Eventually, a few months later, after early elections in 2012, the Foundation was allowed back to manage the Centre and the project recovered its original name.[42] The plaque was up on the center on 21 June 2012.

During the homage to Oscar Niemeyer on 15 December 2012, (what would have been his 105 birthday),[43] the citizens movement released "Sentimiento Niemeyer".[44] The verses were written by different people through a Facebook event and put together by musicians. The song was released under a Creative Commons license (attribution, non-profit, no-variations) so that other artists who shared the feeling around the world could produce their own cover of the song, keeping the melody and translating the lyrics.[45]


See also[edit]



  1. ^ Influential modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer dies aged 104. The Independent, 6 December 2012
  2. ^ Information[dead link]
  3. ^ "Note in "El Mundo"". Elmundo.es. 
  4. ^ Description and Woody Allen
  5. ^ "Entrevista: Niemeyer la poética de la curva" (Spanish) in http://noticias.arq.com.mx
  6. ^ Yolanda De Luis. "Article in "El Comercio Digital"". Avilés: Elcomerciodigital.com. 
  7. ^ El clarinete de Woody Allen apadrina el Niemeyer Elmundo.es, 26 March 2011
  8. ^ Paul Richardson (1 July 2011). "''A great white hope in Avilés, Asturias'". The Guardian. London. 
  9. ^ "More information about "The Island of the innovation in Avilés"". Xihalife.com. 9 January 2008. 
  10. ^ Brad Pitt visita por sorpresa Avilés ABC, 31 August 2009
  11. ^ La Opinión de A Coruña (31 August 2009). "Brat Pitt's surprise visitita". Laopinioncoruna.es. 
  12. ^ Kevin Spacey convierte a Ricardo III en un dictador del siglo XX. Cultura, El País, 29 September 2011
  13. ^ Y. De Luis (11 October 2011). "La Voz de Avilés". Elcomercio.es. 
  14. ^ "The Island of Innovation". Aviles.es. 
  15. ^ "Niemeyitas". Comarca Avilés. Retrieved 23 September 2016. 
  16. ^ KERES94 personen vinden dit leuk (18 September 2012). "''Keres'' Facebook page". Facebook.com. 
  17. ^ Nissan lleva su guerra de las galaxias al Niemeyer y al Calatrava La voz e Avilés, 2 September 2013
  18. ^ Una 'top model' en el Niemeyer La voz de Avilés, 24 May 2011
  19. ^ "El País.com, 22/2/2008". Elpais.com. 6 December 2007. 
  20. ^ Web del The Repertory Theatre, Singapur[dead link]
  21. ^ "EFM World Tour with The Bridge Project – Richard III", EFM, 26 June 2012
  22. ^ La Nueva España (28 March 2012). "De Gijón a Broadway ''La Nueva España'', 28th March 2012". Lne.es. 
  23. ^ "Ruta Quetzal video". Youtube.com. 14 July 2011. 
  24. ^ "''informador.com.mx''". Informador.com.mx. 25 March 2011. 
  25. ^ "''informador.com.mx''". Informador.com.mx. 25 March 2011. 
  26. ^ Volker Schlöndorff’s visit Archived 26 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  27. ^ "Damien Pwono (ASPEN Institute)". Niemeyer.elcomercio.es. 
  28. ^ "Article on". E-architect.co.uk. 25 March 2011. 
  29. ^ Description of the Centre and relationship with Woody Allen
  30. ^ "Blog de Paulo Coelho". Paulocoelhoblog.com. 12 July 2013. 
  31. ^ "Terra Noticias". Actualidad.terra.es. 
  32. ^ "RTPA noticias". Rtpa.es. 17 October 2010. 
  33. ^ La Nueva España. "Article in ''La Nueva España'' newspaper". Lne.es. 
  34. ^ E.C.D. "El Comercio, April 2011". Gijón: Elcomercio.es. 
  35. ^ 2nd Price- VIII Saint-Gobain Gypsum International Trophy Awards Archived 28 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  36. ^ Diario de Jeréz
  37. ^ Crónica Popular (6 December 2012). "Open letter to the Government". Cronicapopular.es. 
  38. ^ "Curtain Could Fall on a Dazzling Arts Center in Spain". NPR. 4 December 2011. 
  39. ^ "Informativos Telecinco". Telecinco.es. 22 August 2011. 
  40. ^ J. G. "La Voz de Avilés, 12 June 2012". Elcomercio.es. 
  41. ^ "Arts Manifesto". Yoapoyocentroniemeyer.blogspot.com.es. 
  42. ^ "The Centro Niemeyer recovers its name through a renewed Foundation". Rtpa.es. 20 June 2012. 
  43. ^ J. González. "A hymn for the Niemeyer". Avilés.: Elcomercio.es. 
  44. ^ ""Sentimiento Niemeyer" in AULA_de_INFANTIL_de Isa". Blog.educastur.es. 16 December 2012. 
  45. ^ La canción homenaje "Sentimiento Niemeyer" supera las 1000 visitas en YouTube

Coordinates: 43°33′25″N 5°54′59″W / 43.556884°N 5.916288°W / 43.556884; -5.916288

External links[edit]