Óscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre

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The Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre (Spanish: Centro Cultural Internacional Oscar Niemeyer) (popularly known as El Niemeyer and Centro Niemeyer) by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer is a a big cultural centre of international significance located in Avilés, Asturias (Spain).

The architect described the Niemeyer Centre as "An open square to the humankind, a place for education, culture and peace".

It is possible to see the complex from different places, even from the air. Its size and white and yellow colours highlight its location in the landscape of the town.

Oscar Niemeyer: The origins and the design

The Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer (designer of Brasilia and one of the most important architects in the world) was awarded with the Prince of Asturias Award for Art in 1989. That was the origin of the relationship between Oscar Niemeyer and the Principality of Asturias. Years later, Niemeyer donated a big project to the Principality. His design has become a project meant to be an international reference because of its production in the cultural field. It will be dedicated to culture and education. This centre will be the first Oscar Niemeyer's work in Spain, and he has said he believes it the most important in Europe.


The Niemeyer Centre is formed by five main elements:

  • The open square: a large open outdoor space for cultural activities.
  • The auditorium: concerts, theatre, conferences... including the Club and the exhibition room in the foyer.
  • The dome: a 2,500 square meters exhibitions building.
  • The tower: sight-seeing tower, restaurant and cocktail lounge
  • The multi-purpose building: Film Centre, meeting-rooms, café...
Step by step

The first stone was set on 2008. The museum building structure was built in about an hour, as a result of the use of a pioneer technique for cultural buildings in Spain. This way, it took about an hour to set up the whole structure.

El Niemeyer was inaugurated on the spring of 2011.

'Niemeyer effect': impact in the post-industrial town

Apart from its cultural purposes, the Óscar Niemyer International Cultural Centre of Avilés has an important environmental element. It is the central piece of a wide urban regeneration process that will change the whole waterfront of the town. It is going to be located in an island created in the Avilés estuary, not far from the industrial area. This will help in the regeneration process of that area.

The authorities are now planning a whole change there, such as eliminating heavy traffic from the port area (where the centre will be located) and creating sport and recreation areas instead. Also a brand new set of projects are being released as a consequence of the Niemeyer Centre effect. This area is called now, La Isla de la Innovación (The Island of the Innovation).

It has been developed by the Government of the Principality of Asturias and the Government of Spain. It will serve as an engine for the economic and urban regeneration of a degraded area in the middle of a process of industrial transformation: the Avilés estuary, situated in Asturias, northern Spain.

Meeting point for knowledge

Oscar Niemeyer's vision is based on three pillars: education, culture and peace. The Niemeyer Centre tries to be a magnet for the three elements. The Center organized in Avilés the First World Forum for Cultural Centres in 2007 (also known as the G8 of culture). Apart from the Niemeyer Centre, the other seven centres were: the New York Lincoln Center, London Barbican Centre, Sydney Opera House, Paris Pompidou Centre, Alexandria Library, Tokyo International Forum and the Hong Kong Cultural Center.

The Niemeyer Centre tries to combine international and national products.

Film Centre

One of the permanent activities of the Niemeyer Centre will be the 'Film Centre'. Directed by Woody Allen, who proposed that idea to the Principality of Asturias Government after several visits to Asturias. Woody Allen has shown publicly his support to the Avilés' centre, visiting the town and including bits of it in his first film 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 Centre.

The films, projected in OSV.


There are three different areas dedicated to this science: the bar, the tower restaurant and the cocktelery. The Gastro, restaurant, consists on a different concept where fourteen guests sit around a common table and are involved in the cooking process. Famous cooks share their experience an menus there.


The main exhibition gallery is The Dome. There is a second and smaller gallery in the foyer of the Auditorium.

Other arts

Education, music, theatre, ballet...

Óscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre Foundation

The centre focuses on three aims: education, culture and peace: "An open square to the humankind, a place for education, culture and peace" in the words of the architect. It is hoped the centre will be a magnet for talent, knowledge and creativity, as well as promoting local content. It will have a strong focus on collaboration with international cultural centres. In December 2007, the Foundation organized the First Worldwide Forum of International Cultural Centres in Avilés, Asturias (also known as the G8 of Culture): 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). The director of the Centre is Natalio Grueso.

There is also an International Advisory Board of the International Culural Centre Óscar Niemeyer. Some of its members are Stephen Hawking, Vinton Cerf, Woody Allen, Paulo Coelho, ...

The Niemeyer Centre will also collaborate with the London School of Economics, the Instituto Cervantes, the Old Vic theatre of London (currently directed by Kevin Spacey) María Cristina Masaveu Fundation, Ministry of Culture (Spain) and with exhibitions exchange with CaixaForum (La Caixa).

On the 17th of October 2008, the news is that the Nigerian writer, poet and playwright Wole Soyinka, who won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, will collaborate with the Niemeyer Centre.


Right after its creation, the Foundation activity started. That way, even before the actual buildings were finished, a lot of activities organized by the Niemeyer Centre took place in Avilés. Some of the activities included premieres (Cassandra's Dream by Woody Allen), the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of The Alchemist (novel) by Paulo Coelho in the Palacio Valdés Theatre (event also transmitted by the Internet), the visits of Fatima Mernissi in June 2008, Wole Soyinka, Vinton Cerf, Omar Shariff..., the concerts of Barbara Hendricks, Joan Manuel Serrat, etc.

Also the first steps for collaborations with the Old Vic Theatre of London took place at that time.

During the spring of 2011 the announcement of the inaugural programme created a lot of expectation proved by the 10,000 invitations accepted for Woody Allen and The New Orleans Jazz Band concert.

The current activities programme is on the Centre's agenda, including exhibitions, concerts, etc.


-Best National Project at Barcelona Meeting Point

-Best Urban Development Project at "Éxito Empresarial en Asturias" awards

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