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Niemeyer Sphere, Leipzig, Oscar Niemeyer

Niemeyer Sphere: An Orb for Leipzig

The Niemeyer Sphere, which is located in Leipzig’s Plagwitz district, was commissioned by the local Kirow factory, the world market leader for railway cranes. The project represents a not unspectacular expansion to the company’s historically protected cafeteria building. The groundbreaking ceremony took place in 2017. Around three years later, the addition celebrated its opening on 3 July 2020.


The sphere is named for none other than Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012), who designed the structure shortly before his death. The project was preceded by a letter from Ludwig Koehne, managing director of the Kirow Ardelt factory and founder of the Techne Sphere corporation, to the Brazilian architect. In this letter, Koehne described his idea for the cafeteria expansion; Niemeyer obviously approved. The design was realized by Jair Valera, Niemeyer’s longtime right-hand man from Rio de Janeiro, in conjunction with the Harald Kern architecture studio in Leipzig.


The partly glazed orb of white concrete, which has a diameter of 12 m, floats in the upper right corner of the brick building, seemingly defying gravity with ease. Inside, there are three levels − framed and built in two separate steps − with a bar in the middle and a restaurant up top. From there, a sliding door leads onto the rooftop terrace of the existing building. Primarily to regulate solar radiation and heat influx, 161 triangular, liquid-crystal windowpanes of various sizes have been installed; these turn from bright to dark in mere seconds.


The Niemeyer Sphere will be open to the public as of September. The spatially connected exhibition Resonance is already showing photographic approaches to the architecture of Oscar Niemeyer. 

 

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