The Design and Construction of Christ the Redeemer

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1 The Design and Construction of Christ the Redeemer Corcovado Mountain Standing 710 meters high, Corcovado Mountain is situated in the Carioca Range and overlooks the city of Rio de Janeiro, and from the nineteenth century has been a frequent destination for those wanting to enjoy the views of Rio de Janeiro. In 1881, a cog system railway as used on Mount Righi in Switzerland was brought to Brazil and the Corcovado railway was built in It was 3827metres long with four stations, the fourth one only 40 meters below the summit. Despite carrying on average 32,000 passengers a year, by the end of the 1800 s the railway started to suffer financially due to the cost of coal needed to run the steam engines. In 1903, the railway declared bankruptcy.

2 Corcovado railway before 1903 and the addition of electric. In 1906, after a Canadian company, The Rio de Janeiro Tramway, Light & Power Co. Ltd, arrived in Rio de Janeiro, providing the city with street lights and tramlines, it became the first electric railway in Brazil, bringing the annual passenger numbers to approximately 48,000. Christ the Redeemer In the early 1920 s, the Catholic Church, which had ruled Brazil since the 1550 s, was starting to lose the support from the Brazilian citizens due to rebel political groups forming as a result of socialist political and economic influences from Europe after The Great War. As the third highest ranking Catholic nation, behind France and Italy, Brazil s Rio de Janeiro Catholic Circle started decided to create a religious monument to bring its people closer together. General Pedro Carolino de Almeida initially came up with the idea to erect a bronze statue of Jesus Christ atop Sugar Loaf Mountain, as a celebration of the centenary of political independence. However it was eventually decided that Corcovado Mountain was the perfect spot. Many designs were put forward and Heitor da Silva Costa was the

3 winning architect and engineer, ater submitting a design of Christ with a large cross in his left arm and holding a globe in his right hand. Making an image of Christ is a high aspiration and a big responsibility. Making it in huge proportions would be, without a doubt, the greatest aspiration and responsibility of one s life. Heitor da Silva Costa In February 1922, President Epitácio Pessoa received a petition signed by more than 20,000 women supporting the erection of a statue of Jesus Christ on Corcovado Mountain - a slight delay had been caused by the Protestant Church and other Religious groups complaining that the statue was of Catholic backing. However, the President informed all groups that if they had come to him first with a similar idea, then they would have been granted permission. In September 1923, a fundraising event called Monument Week took place, and in only seven days over 100,000 réis was raised, half of what was needed to build the statue.

4 Heitor was inspired by radio antennas atop the Corcovado Mountain which formed a large cross of 40 metres high by 40 metres wide across the arms. And he felt the rocky area on the summit looked like the perfect place for the Christ to look down from. Construction of Christ the Redeemer Heitor da Silva Costa came to the conclusion that he must use the modern material of reinforced concrete for the entirety of the structure, because a metal framework would appear unappealing and would also weather badly.

5 The public is used to seeing reinforced concrete in engineering work, pillars, columns etc, but I presented it as being able to serve for a work of art; it still seems unusual. However, this material is modern and the material of the future. Heitor da Silva Costa In 1924, Heitor contacted the great master of structural engineering, Albert Caquot, in Europe to help find a sculptor who would be able to make the final scale model. He then met with many sculptors in Paris, Munich, Florence and Rome and decided to work with the renowned sculptor, Paul Landowski in Paris. While Paul Landowski was busy making the moulds for both the hands and the Christ s head, Albert Caquot was putting the finishing touches to his plans of the structure in reinforced concrete. The plans revealed the measurements for the structure: Height: 30 meters Pedestal: 8 meters Head: 3.75 meters high Hand length: 3.20 meters and the distance fingertip to fingertip would be 28 meters. The total weight of the structure would be 1,145 tons, with the head weighing 30 tons alone and each arm weighing 80 tons. Your process was certainly excellent; mathematics shall always be the queen of architecture and even of sculpture. Paul Landowski in a letter to Heitor da Silva Costa. Heitor was keen to express to Landowski that the head and hands would be seen as a work of art a sculpture and the body and arms as architectural work. He commissioned him to construct a 4 metre replica of the statue. This photo shows Landowski in his new studio on Boulevard Saint Germains where he sculptured the 4 metre model.

6 Paul Landowski s studio was too small for the construction of both hands and the head, but Heitor found one large enough on Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris. Now that construction was underway, Heitor s next problem was coming up with the external finish for the statue. He knew the reinforced concrete wouldn t provide the artistic look the structure demanded. And in 1927, Heitor came across the perfect solution in a Parisian fountain he saw the walls were coated with small silver tile triangles. Within 24 hours, he had had several samples made at a local ceramic studio, of different sizes and using various materials, including soapstone. Soapstone was wildly used in the churches of Minas Ferais, as its colour never fades, it is resistant to the rain and sun, and does not expand or contract with temperature. I am fully enchanted with the result that you have achieved and cannot but congratulate you on your idea. I fully share your opinion that this material will have a nobler and richer effect, in addition to being completely resistant to everything. Paul Landowski s letter to Heitor da Silva Costa. This idea was brought back to Rio de Janeiro, where the women of society met frequently in churches to stick the soapstone triangles onto sheets of mesh, which would later cover every part of the Christ, and some say that some wrote the names of those that held their heart on the back of the tiles before sticking them down, sealing their love forever.

7 From left to right: Heitor da Silva Costa, Pedro Fernandes Vianna da Silva, Antonio Ferreira Antero and Heitor Levy. The construction of Christ s body began in the middle of 1926 under the supervision of his architect Heitor Levy, and engineers Antonio Ferreira Antero and Pedro Fernandes Vianna da Silva.

8 The work went on for five years and in that time despite the dangerous conditions working at great heights, no man lost his life. Christ the Redeemer was inaugurated on October 12 th, 1931, which followed a week of festivities called National Christ the Redeemer Week, as people from all corners of Brazil started to arrive. Christo Redentor, or Christ the Redeemer as the rest of the world know it, has recently celebrated its eightieth birthday in 2011, and has gone on to become one of the new modern Seven Wonders of the World, with nearly 2million visitors each year.

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