São Paulo, Brazil Studio
Prof. .R. Davids
Sao Paulo has the appearance of a vast, monotonous, dense uplift cut across by deep clefts…Every notion we may have about planning and architecture evaporates here. What do you do about cities with over 10 million inhabitants? You cannot do them justice with ‘normal’ planning or ‘normal’ architecture. That would suggest that the contemplative slowness of the plan or design would work here. In Brazil, action is chronically overtaken by events. No time for consideration, no time for reflection. That’s a European luxury, but here every municipal organization is powerless against the proliferation of the city. All that can be done is to keep things under control. Urban planning becomes a matter of policing rather than a political or cultural discipline.”
Wim Nijenhuis & Nathalie de Vriers in Eating Brazil
When Le Corbusier sketched a proposal for São Paulo in 1929, he visualized an aqueduct-like infrastructure of continuous residential buildings with highways on top that would contrast with the undulating contours of the surrounding hills. Its cruciform shape gave the city an armature that would order its future development. Instead, throughout the twentieth century the urbanization of São Paulo was notable for its rapidly accelerating pace and haphazard growth. By century’s end it was among the world’s largest cities and had been rebuilt four times: first in adobe, followed by brick, concrete and finally glass and steel. Until recently the city expanded outwards, consuming more and more land, but a new urban trend has taken hold, favoring regeneration of once vibrant neighborhood that have been partially abandoned.
São Paulo: the Bras Neighborhood
Development of major commercial areas beyond the limits of Sao Paulo’s downtowndates to the mid-1950s, when Paulista Avenue first became the address of choice for large banks and corporations. In the past half century, the development of densely occupied commercial cores has spread even farther west and southwest of downtown Sao Paulo, concentrating particularly along the Marginal-Pinheiros freeway. This growth corridor pulls both commercial development and opportunities for higher skilled jobs farther away from the downtown into areas not easily accessed by those who live in the working class neighborhoods of eastern Sao Paulo and who rely on public transportation. That these new commercial cores lack significant cultural history and exclude a large a portion of the population suggests that they are inadequate successors to Sao Paulo’s historic downtown.
The need to re-stabilize investment and residence in the historic downtown requires an equally magnetic pull from the east. The most effective draw would be generated by a growth corridor parallel to the Marginal-Pinheiros, extending from Guarulhos Airport southeastward toward Sacoma, and eventually to the port at Santos. The key import and export capacities of the corridor’s two terminal anchors providea primary identity to that corridor: trade.Pari and Bras the neighborhoods the studio will study lie along the Tamaduatei river at a central point along the potential growth corridor and offer two assets that position them to as major anchors of the corridor:
Ample and eager immigrant workforce.Bras has been home to immigrant populations in the city since its industrialization in the late 19th century. Having passed through phases of being primarily occupied by Africans, Arabs, Armenians and European Jews, the neighborhoods are now strongly Korean. Immigrants are drawn to the area by entrepreneurship opportunities in the garment industry, in which profits can be made quickly and cheaply. The majority of the city’s 50,000 Koreans live in the area, particularly in Bom Retiro.The other major immigrant group in the area is a fast-growing contingent of Bolivians, also in the tens of thousands, many of whom have entered Brazil illegally in search of work
Ample trading and transportation infrastructure. The site lies along a freeway connecting the city to the port at Santos and to other major regional destinations to the north and northwest. The freeway is a major bussing and trucking s that are presently disused. The strategy to be employed will respectthe voids that have been created re-interpreting them creatively through landscape strategies ecological recovery of the Tamanduatei River, new public space and the introduction of new work and production facilities.