So even though I have been blogging a little about Medellin, I have been soaking up sun (and sweating quite a bit I might add) in Sao Paulo for the last week. My travels weren’t as well planned as I though for I arrived right in the middle of Carnaval. To put in a clearer manner, this basically means that the city literally STOPS and no one works… As such, I had to sacrifice myself (and I truly mean sacrifice myself, because it is so hard to be in Sao Paulo with no research agenda in mind 😉 for the last week and simply enjoy the city as a plain tourist. As enjoyable as the week was, this put me a little behind in my research and the projects that I want to analyze.
This week, “the first week of the year” as Brazilians call it, (apparently the Carnaval takes up to much attention and expectation for people to really do any work before the festivities end), I was finally able to contact professors at the University of Sao Paulo (FAU- the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism) as well as other architects, in order to get concrete information on specific projects and policies. Although I am slowly getting the right information, I am now struggling to secure contacts for my different visits to the favelas and particular interventions.
Sao Paulo is the largest metropolis in South America with approximately 16 million inhabitants (followed by Rio with 10 million). Beginning as a coffee town, in the 1920s, Sao Paulo turned to industrial development and in later twentieth centery, became one of the largest service economies. Sao Paulo is the country’s main economic and financial hub producing nearly 15 % of the national GDP. Nevertheless, Sampa (as the locals call it) is also a city with many dichotomies and disparities. Even though the city is a key piece to the national economy, it also holds the country’s largest unemployment rate…Territorial and social exclusion are pronounced and ubiquitous. This is particularly in the peripheries where the upper classes surround themselves by large fortresses (we ca easily refer to Teresa Caldeiras’ City of Walls), and surrounding these walls, in subnormal standards, lives a large percentage of the population. There are close to 2000 favelas scattered in the periphery of the city (these are smaller than the ones in Rio, where there are about 200 favelas holding close to 2 million people).
In the next post I will touch on a quick overview of the city’s urbanization. For now, I want to let you know the projects that are in the agenda during my visit (hoping that I can actually secure ALL the contacts I need in order to visit the projects and the favelas):
-Guarapiranga Reservoir: Various areas around the reservoir are reigned by small favelas. The government started a strong politic in the 1980s and 1990s to restore the water quality in the reservoirs, and by default to upgrade the conditions in the surrounding favelas.
-Heliopolis – The largest favela in Sao Paulo, Heliopolis was official formalized as a neighborhood (I am not sure if the inhabitants have titles or not). It now houses some interesting projects by architect Hector Vigliecca.
-Paraisopolis- Located within the city limits, and bordering one of SP’s rich neighborhoods, Morumbi, Paraisopolis has become a marketing strategy for the prefeitura (the government) in Sao Paulo. I know of various conceptual proposals for the favela (particularly of a SP firm MMBB and now the GSD in Harvard…)
-Santo Andre – An informal settlement in the outskirts of the city, which had for a long time, and until very recently, a strong policy for social and physical upgrading (I am speaking to Rosana Denaldi, who was the director of the project for many years)
–CEUs : “Centros Educacionais Unificados” (in Jardim da Amasceno; Guarapiranga; Jadim Angela)- the CEUs are part of a strategy to “equip” some of the poorest areas in the city. They mostly consist of schools, community and recreation centers, libraries, etc. Needless to say, some of the CEUs are located within the favelas. A
–Multiroes- These are self-help housing projects (I believe that they are mostly medium size residential buildings) were schools of “assessorias”, or consustants, were formed by architects and engineers.
–Public Housing Projects: If I am able to make it out there, Cidade Tirandentes (it houses 300 000 people!); Baixada do Carmo by Attilio Lima (original project 4038 units, built 480), Mooca by Paulo Ribeiro (576 units), and Japura by Eduardo de Melo; Varzea do Carmo residential complex by Atilio Correa Lima