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Niemeyer architecture leads revitalization in Aviles.
Not to be outdone, on one end of the center’s grounds, the auditorium stage opens out onto a seating area for 920 people. The backdrop to the same stage can also be opened, offering the center’s plaza as a unique backdrop as well as the structure necessary to put on shows for an outdoor audience four times larger. Niemeyer envisions these open spaces next to the sea, drawing people together in this focal point for culture, education and peace.
Mercedes Alvarez said the principality’s regional government is investing some 30 million euros to complete Niemeyer’s design. “Plazas are where cities are made. The life-energy itself built upon the coming together of people generates many initiatives.”
The white exteriors common to Niemeyer structures — from Brasilia to the General Assembly of the United Nations — fill the grounds of the art center that bears his name. Each structure built with reinforced concrete will be dressed in a white resin to protect it.
The center is completed by a sinuous boardwalk connecting the museum and auditorium while also separating an administrative building from a panoramic restaurant closest to the river.
“There is a sculptural component to his work,” mused Alonso. The beauty is in the apparent simplicity. Neimeyer has long credited the curvatures of the Brazilian coastline he calls home, and the women on its beaches, as primary sources of inspiration.
But the motivation to build what he has called his “dearest” work in the distant land of Asturias is another. Spain’s crown Prince Felipe granted his annual award for the arts to Oscar Niemeyer two decades ago. Stephen Hawking, Vinton Cerf and Woody Allen are among other recipients of the Prince of Asturias awards recognizing exemplary achievements at an international level. All three now sit on the advisory board for the Niemeyer Center.
“The Niemeyer Center channels the spirit of the awards into a tangible initiative that has caught on with citizens,” said Ramon Antonio Alvarez, city councilor for culture in Aviles. “It is a doorway that receives award winners as much as a doorway out of which will come new innovators.”
The Prince of Asturias awards, which promote “science, culture and humanistic values forming part of mankind’s universal heritage” will celebrate their 30th anniversary in 2010, just as the Niemeyer Center expects to open its doors to the public.