Dissatisfied São Paulo

A voracious spirit characterises the city of São Paulo. This peculiar trait is nothing new. It may have been present among populations inhabiting the area even before the arrival of European colonisers, and was certainly well understood by the Modernist writer Oswald de Andrade in his Manifesto Antropófago (Cannibal Manifesto, 1928) as a typically Brazilian strategy: the act of swallowing a foreign culture in order to – when digesting – emerge as a singular culture. Nowadays, this anthropophagic nature persists, expressed most clearly in São Paulo’s ability to constantly build, demolish and remake Brazil’s largest metropolis.

With a population surpassing 20 million people, nothing is static in São Paulo. Continuous swallowings and digestions take place everyday, everywhere. Places and buildings come and go at such a pace that we find it difficult to keep up with the changes. During the last decades of the 20th century, São Paulo’s state of permanent transformation worsened the city. This contributed to an overriding desire for personal safety, and the individualistic mindsets of ‘paulistas’, as São Paulo residents are known, resulted in a proliferation of expressways and gated residential communities.

But the current urban model of explosive growth already shows numerous signs of exhaustion. And with that, different interest groups and organisations have started to externalise their desire for change in certain neighbourhoods across the city. In June 2013, a variety of initiatives across São Paulo converged in a moment of ebullition that has clearly established public space as a new agenda.


Leia na íntegra na Architectural Design – Brazil: Restructuring the Urban (maio 2016)