After three years of construction the Niemeyer Sphere was officially inaugurated in Leipzig-Plagwitz in early July. It is the last work by Brazilian star architect Oscar Niemeyer, who died in 2012, and was built on the company grounds of tram-manufacturer HeiterBlick and railway-crane manufacturer Kirow Ardelt AG, the so-called Techne Sphere.
The project was initiated in 2011 by CEO Ludwig Koehne who addressed a letter to Oscar Niemeyer’s office in Rio de Janeiro. He told him about his chef of the employee cafeteria, who was looking for a new challenge at the time. In order to keep this man, Tibor Herzigkeit, and his talent for extraordinary recipes in the company, Koehne was eager to provide him with an additional task: Cooking fine dining courses in a proper restaurant. That required a new space which Koehne asked Niemeyer to design. And so he did.
The result is a fascinating symbiosis of industrial architecture and modernism. The 12-metre-diameter globe has no visible connection to the ground but sits on the edge of the 19th-century cafeteria building. Taken the size of Niemeyer’s many other projects, e.g. the headquarters of the United Nations in New York City, his Leipzig work is comparatively small, but no less remarkable. Against the backdrop of the red brick façade with straight lines and corners, the outer shell made of white-washed concrete and glass triangles forming soft curves stands out even more. The sphere seems to be floating.
While the sketches were made by Niemeyer himself, Jair Velara, office manager of Studio Niemeyer, completed the project after the grand architect died. A special feature which halted the construction for almost a year is the glass triangles. They are custom-built from liquid crystal glass and can be shaded electronically within seconds. Thus even during bright sunshine, the temperature inside the globe stays pleasant.
From 31 July, the sphere can be visited in small groups in connection with the exhibition “Resonance – Artists on Niemeyer” currently on display at Halle 9 gallery (until 18 October 2020). It shows various photographic approaches to the architecture of Oscar Niemeyer.
From September, the restaurant and bar Céu Dining will open on Wednesdays. Céu meaning sky in Brazilian is not only a reference to Niemeyer’s home country but also to the view from up there. While overlooking the industrial architecture of Plagwitz, guests can indulge in international cuisine cooked with seasonal ingredients from next-doors roofed vegetable garden. Chef Herzigkeit promises there will be at least one Brazilian dish permanently on the menu. Tables must be booked in advance.
For more information on the Niemeyer Sphere and how to visit see www.technesphere.de.
For more information on Leipzig’s modern architecture see www.leipzig.travel/architecture.