From an urban design perspective, São Paulo, Brazil, Munich, in Germany, and New York could not be any more different—they exist on separate continents, have vastly different densities, and utilize space in their own distinct ways. So, what, you might ask, could these cities possibly have in common? The answer, according to Andres Lepik and Daniel Talesnik, is more than you think. Access for All: São Paulo’s Architectural Infrastructures, which opened this week at the AIA New York’s Center for Architecture, sets the stage for comparison between São Paulo and its peer cities across the globe. Curated by Talesnik, a trained architect and Bauhaus expert, the exhibition was originally presented at Architekturmuseum Der Tum under the direction of Lepik. Although São Paulo has a significantly greater population density than Munich, Talesnik felt that the German city had plenty to learn from the Brazilian city’s avid use of public space. For decades, the megacity of 12 million has seen a growing investment in public infrastructure in order to ease its open space shortages and respond to the demand for cultural and recreational programming. Access for All presents a selection of these projects since the 1950s, organized into three categories: large-scale, multi-programmatic projects; open public spaces; and projects located along the iconic Paulista Avenue. The exhibition comes 10 years after Lepik’s curation of Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement at the Museum of Modern Art, which highlighted architectural projects on five continents that aided underserved communities. Lepik’s research was an appropriate precursor for a case study in São Paulo, a city deeply affected by economic inequality, high crime rates, traffic congestion, and public health hazards. Talesnik views the selected projects as microcosms of urban life. From the pedestrianized Minhocão highway to the multi-story SESC Pompeía cultural center, the projects are analyzed through sociocultural impact rather than formal characteristics, highlighting the dynamic relationship between the built environment and its inhabitants. In its new home at the Center for Architecture, the exhibition intends to teach New York a few lessons. The large infographic at the start of the exhibition has been stripped of its “Munich” column and replaced with a “New York” column to compare and contrast figures alongside São Paulo’s. At the exhibition’s opening, visitors wanted to know what exactly New York might take away from the São Paulo method. Figuring out that mystery is one of Lepik’s and Talesnik’s favorite parts of the exhibition: “Who knows,” Talesnik laughed. “But we’re certainly curious.” Access for All is on display through May 23.
Posts tagged with "São Paulo":
Piselli, one of the most acclaimed restaurants in São Paulo, will open in Iguatemi’s central plaza, the oldest Brazilian mall in operation and a popular Sao Paulo interior public space. Eric Carlson and his office CARBONDALE designed this “restaurant without walls,” using vegetation and materials to divide spaces. Situated in a 32,000 square-foot, 4-story-high interior plaza lined with travertine stone and naturally illuminated with a sculptural skylight, CARBONDALE's restaurant is wrapped with vertical, gold-plated brass-bars. Carlson gave the restaurant open views of the garden, along with natural ventilation and light. A rise in the cumaru wood parquet flooring distinguishes the restaurant from the plaza. The ceiling, a polished and lacquered smoked cedar wood, reflects the vegetation, making the height of the 20-foot-tall space appear more expansive. The vertical, wood frames, infilled with a brass mesh, subdivide the space, giving it depth and adding a sense of shade. CARBONDALE calls this result a “Restaurant in the Garden.” Carlson said in Portuguese, "If I had to choose a Brazilian common feature I would say the importance of nature and greenery.” And Piselli adds this exact cultural and social element to the Iguatemi shopping center. Iguatemi's Piselli and Plaza, both designed by CARBONDALE, are great steps towards introducing customized design to shopping centers, where architecture does not always fit cultural and social factors.
Leave it to a pair of Brazilian architects to use reinforced concrete to reinvent small-scale urbanism. While North American designers turn to plywood and recycled palettes to create curbside seating, architects Fernando Falcón and Rodrigo Cerviño of the São Paulo–based practice TACOA Arquitetos shopped for rebar. Entitled Jardineira, Falcón and Cerviño’s installation is a cantilevered concrete planter and bench located on the busy Insurgentes Avenue in Mexico City. The work sits outside the architecture gallery LIGA, Space for Architecture on one of the city’s major thoroughfares. Founded in 2011, the gallery focuses on primarily on Latin American practices and Jardineira is the first time that an exhibition has left the 172-square-foot venue and directly addressed the street condition. The concrete installation mimics the existing street furniture, but with one exception: it tilts, seemingly dislodging itself from the sidewalk. “I knew it would be good when they wanted to bring in a structural engineer,” said architect Wonne Ickx, co-founder of LIGA and the architecture firm Productora. An emerging firm, TACOA believes that any work of architecture should serve as a pretext for interacting directly with the city. As their installation illustrates, they do this without abandoning disciplinary rigor or a formal language. The pair ground their work in the teachings of the Paulista School, the mid-century group of Brazilian architects that included Pritzker Prize–winner Paulo Mendes da Rocha and João Batista Vilanova Artigas. Designs from both architects are included in the current MoMA exhibition Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955–1980. While most would associate Brazilian architecture with the swoops of Oscar Niemeyer, the Paulista School embraced the grittier side of architecture with chunky, exposed concrete buildings. Similarly, Falcón and Cerviño find inspiration in the frictions and imperfections of urban life. Jardineira is on view at LIGA through August.
While Americans trampled over each-other for the latest consumer electronics, flames tore through the late Oscar Neimeyer’s landmark Latin America Memorial complex (1987) in São Paulo, Brazil on Friday. Inaugurated in 1989, the complex was built to promote the social, cultural, political and economic integration of Latin America. Eighty-eight firefighters were reportedly dispatched to contain the blaze that consumed portions of the 909,000 square foot complex for up to five hours. According to a spokesperson for the memorial, the blaze originated from a short circuit in the 1,600-seat Simon Bolivar auditorium, which is said to house Neimeyer’s original plans for the building. None of the building’s employees were injured, though 25 firefighters were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, two of which remained in critical condition on Saturday. While local media reported that up to 90 percent of the building’s interior was destroyed as the fire consumed chairs, melted metal, cracked walls, and shattered glass panes, it is unclear to what extent the complex’s cultural collections were harmed. According to João Batista de Anrdade, CEO of the Latin American Memorial Foundation, an extensive cleanup of the complex was performed a few months ago, in which much of the foundations cultural and historical collection was removed. Foundation employees have been waiting for the structure to be confirmed safe before returning to assess the damage to the historic building and its collections. Whatever the damage may be, state officials have confirmed that demolition is not an option. “We will ensure the most prompt restoration of the auditorium,” Secretary of State for Culture, Marcelo Mattos Araujo told Brazilian media.