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Oscar Niemeyer designed this modern 1940s complex, one of Belo Horizonte's don't-miss sights. On the banks of Lagoa da Pampulha, the Conjunto Arquitetônico da Pampulha encompasses the Museu de Arte da Pampulha, the Casa do Baile, and the Igreja de São Francisco de Assis.
The museum, one of Niemeyer's first projects, shows the influence of the European architect Le Corbusier on the young Brazilian. The glass and concrete structure, whose landscape gardens were designed by Richard Burle Marx, served as the city's casino until 1946, when gambling was prohibited in Brazil, and was converted into a museum in 1957.
The Casa do Baile, originally home to a small restaurant and a ballroom, is on a small artificial island connected to the Lagoa's bank by a concrete bridge. After the gambling ban went into effect, the space was used for various commercial activities until 2002, when a renovation project led by Niemeyer allowed for the reopening of the building.
It is currently a reference center for architecture and design, and it hosts related exhibitions, workshops, and events. The internal area has a collection of Niemeyer's original sketches.
The glass and stucco 14 exterior mosaic panels of the Igreja de São Francisco de Assis, which describe the life and activities of its namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, are moving riffs off the azulejos (decorative blue Portuguese tiles) found in many colonial churches in Brazil.
Av. Otacílio Negrão de Lima, Belo Horizonte, 31365–450, Brazil
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