Concrete Spring, is an in-depth investigation of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer’s little-known legacy in Algeria. Built shortly after Algerian independence, two university campuses and an Olympic sports hall stand as a testament to Niemeyer’s vision for the country. With their startling angles and sweeping curves, these modernist masterpieces push concrete to its sculptural, even poetic limits. Equally they radiate the democratic, humanist values Niemeyer originally imbued them with.
Oddy embarked on this series in the wake of the Arab Spring. At that critical juncture in the region his principal goal was to produce work that would both identify and reanimate the emancipatory ambitions that have been lying dormant in Niemeyer’s Algerian projects for decades.
If it is the case that just as we inhabit architecture it also inhabits us, then in Concrete Spring Oddy has sought out places which point to the possibility of moving beyond our traditional, hierarchical relationship to manmade space. It is a body of work that intimates how architecture might give power to people rather than to institutions and, in so doing, might yet succeed in setting its inhabitants free.