Oscar Niemeyer Sphere
The Oscar Niemeyer Sphere Glows
After seven years of design and construction, an intensive coordination between the Brazilian office in Rio de Janeiro, the local architects, and a committed client, the 2011 design by Oscar Niemeyer has now become real in Leipzig. Niemeyer is a master of curves. This is exactly what the lighting design traces inside and out of the Oscar Niemeyer Sphere. The fine curves are emphasized with the appropriate light and the concrete is given the lightness for which the architect is known. At the same time, an interior atmosphere is created to experience and enjoy this extraordinary ambience.
At the beginning of the project, it was important to understand and learn to read the architectural intentions of Niemeyer in detail to underline them with light in the appropriate manner. The decades of experience gained by Jair Valera as Oscar Niemeyer‘s right-hand man in Rio de Janeiro, and the intensive exchanges with him during the design process, enabled us to properly interpret the architectural language.
The Sphere is accessed via the concrete shaft at the building’s head end, which houses a lift lobby and the central elevator to the upper floors. The brick-colored concrete surface also extends into the interior of the shaft and is gently illuminated by a cove light that has been integrated into a ceiling panel inclined towards the elevator door. The ceiling as well as the light have a guiding function.
The lift takes you to the bar area on the lower level. A ceiling cove light around the perimeter of the sphere traces the ground floor plan and washes the curved white concrete shell with indirect light. A drawing by Niemeyer on the back wall and the bar counter are accentuated with recessed spotlights. LED downlights with warm dimming technology provide a very golden and warm-toned light. The bar counter and shelves on the back wall have lighting integrated into the millwork.
The restaurant and lounge are located at equator height of the sphere. While the restaurant’s service area in the back of the sphere is surrounded by an adjusted wall, daytime visitors are seated in the anterior, light-flooded restaurant area, underneath a glass vault offering wonderful views of the outside. As glare and thermal protection, the liquid crystal glass panels automatically darken depending on the amount of sunlight.
To use the lounge and restaurant areas on the upper floor for various in-house occasions, but also for third-party leasing, the artificial light offers various programmed light scenes, especially for the evening hours. Indirect light is initially used as architectural lighting. Small, adjustable spotlights are integrated in the upper area of the partition wall and illuminate the inner concrete shell, which acts like a white reflector. Additional small spotlights are located in the black floor ventilation duct along the perimeter of the sphere, directly next to the glass-steel construction to gently wash them with indirect light. Another light layer is added via miniature spotlights at the junctions of the steel construction, which are used for direct lighting in the dining area and the stairs as well as for emphasizing the expansive mural.
It was our aim, especially in the evening hours, to make tangible the organic shape of the sphere in its entirety. The light coves and the indirect lighting in the interior trace the extraordinary volumes inside the sphere. They set the curvature in scene and create a depth effect as well as interesting visual references from the outside into the interior of the Niemeyer Sphere. Gobo spotlights mounted on the roofs are used to illuminate the white concrete shell of the sphere, while a soft light gradient gives the concrete a lightness that is typical with this architect.