URBAN ALCHEMY The unbalance of useable space and dense population
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Sao Paulo is my home state, which is why that the topics, problems, and solutions are special to me. Growing up in Brazil as a kid you never really notice the bad. I had a pretty good childhood and I never really understood the issues until I came to America at age 10. My parents ordered a Brazilian channel package from dish-network and that was our way of maintaining contact with our country while being far away. I always hated watching the news because it would always be about violence and crime, and then the last segment would be a tiny report on something good. I’ve always known I wanted to be an architect. I became friends with the workers who were constructing my house there, in Sao Sebastiao da Grama, SP (my town). I would bring them water during the hot days, and occasionally I would ask my mom for money to go to the nearest deli and buy cookies to give them. They would say hi to me on the
street when I saw them on the weekends. They even let me help set up a few bricks and some clay roof tiles.
generic pitched roof houses. 4 years into college I discovered my passion, now that I had a better understanding about Architecture.
Later on I met the architect who would come to the site and to my house at times to discuss changes with my mom. She grew fond of me because I would sit with my mom at the kitchen table just watching them talk about things I could not understand. I was interested in the drawings. She then began printing extra copies of elevations and floor plans for me to color. I asked my mom what her official job title was and she said “Architect.” I never looked back.
My design (five) semester was an Urban Design competition that focused on the rising water levels and the protection from it in Red Hook, Brooklyn NY. My team and I won second place that semester despite a very tough competition with 25+ projects. After that I realized that this was my passion and decided to bring it back home for my final year of architecture.
Up until high school, I didn’t really have a grasp on architecture. I didn’t know who Frank Lloyd Wright was, much less Le Corbusier. I learned how to use Google Sketchup on my own and I would use my few skills trying to create kitchens and cabinets and
Sao Paulo City Center
~ ESQUECERAO SAMPA OS RIOS
My year began with a simple idea that I wanted to create a better river for the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The Tietê River has been on São Paulo’s radar since the early 1900’s. By looking at the scale of this river and it’s location and it’s physical imposition on São Paulo’s grid, one would assume that like many other civilizations and colonies, São Paulo was born on its margins. That false first impression happened to be a revelation for me. When I looked at a google satellite image of São Paulo for the first time, I was solely interested in locating the Tietê River and I dove right into some type of analysis which only led my attention away from it. I read many newspaper articles that mentioned the cities attempt and plans to create a clean river and create boat tours on it that would show you the city of São Paulo. My belief is that the city is going about the planning of the city all wrong. They want to clean a river that is surrounded by factories instead of focusing on the more important and perhaps more serious river in its historic center, the Tamanduatei River. which Sao Paulo was founded on.
São Paulo is a concrete jungle that has been forgotten and deteriorating for decades. In addition to its physical appearance, it doesn’t have anything exciting or different for its residents. The general feel of this city is one of acceptance. As in, “this is what we were given, let’s make the best of it.” And I commend them for that. However, it is my job to show them a realm of possibilities, if they take a leap of faith and embark on this journey of fixing its problems. As a future architect and maybe an Urban Designer, I have to realize that I cannot “play God” and just simply wave a magic wand and have everything be solved. Once I really began understanding the fabric and the layout of the city, I was also realizing its problems and potentials.
SP Figure 1a
Sao Paulo is an Alpha Global city. The most populous city in Brazil, the Americas, and the southern hemisphere. It is the 11th most populous in the world, and a melting pot of cultures, gastronomy, and music. Most of its issues, if not all, come from a rapid growth and sprawl, crime, and a corrupt government that tries to do too much all at once but cant finish one project without years of delay. The Paulistanos (as the natives are called) want change and need change. In the 80’s Sao Paulo was considered “Terra da Garoa” or land of the drizzle. Now it is considered the land of the floods. The city does not have the proper infrastructure to take accommodate its people (12 million).
Urban Sprawl Figure 1b
When talking about Sampa (Sao Paulo) it is important to mention that we have Sao Paulo state (in blue) - Figure 1a - Which houses a Macro metropolis. Then there is major Sao Paulo (outlined in black) - Figure 1b - and then there is Sao Paulo city, which is shown in gray, and it doesn’t have a clear boundary because it is too dense and municipal lines get lost. The importance of Sao Paulo can be seen in the highway map shown. All roads lead into the city and the city center. Figure 1c. While major Sao Paulo is the smallest of all “members” in the macro-metropolis, it is the most dense and the most important. Figure 1d
Urban Stain Sao Paulo City
Greater Sao Paulo
From 1929 to 2002 Sao Pauloâ€™s population grew from 1 million to 16 million. The initial 50 square meters of urban area quickly became 680 square meters. Sao Paulo grew like an oil stain. Much like most major cities in Brazil that grows to the peripheries and leaves the city center to crumble. Rural areas transform into urban ones. The city centers become abandoned and progressively becomes a commercial zone.
Y TEH DUA
A RIVER T
1848 1841 1810
1855 It is obvious that Sao Pauloâ€™s growth was unplanned, and the effects are still felt today. When we go back to its origin, we begin to see a healthy and lively place where the inhabitants felt pleasure and pride in their rivers and the city. It all began on the margins of the Tamanduatei River.
In its humble beginnings, Sao Paulo was founded by Jesuits who came to Brazil with the purpose of evangelizing and spreading new religious views. The city grew quickly. Immigrants created new churches and colleges, jails and gardens. They had a strong relationship with the Tamanduatei River. They understood the importance of keeping their water clean, and making sure that everyone had access to it. It was common to see people traveling the river on Sundays. During the week one would see maids washing clothes on its shores. Kids would learn to swim there. Boating teams would compete every season. It was a true river city like the ones we see in Paris and London. There was a certain romance and strong energy in the city.
“Sao Paulos rivers were suffocated by progress”
~ “Sao Paulo Nao Pode Parar” -Ademar Pereira de Barros
Once development took off, and industrialization began, the sinuous river suffered alterations in order to accommodate the new clay factories. New factories meant that more people would come to the now big city to find a job. With a rapid growing population, the city could not manage and properly plan. Every year the population would grow by the millions. These millions used and abused the waters of the Tamanduatei River and later on the Tiete River.
Sao Paulo Topography
As mentioned previously, the more the population of Sao Paulo spreads out and continues to choose the inner city life over city life, the greater destruction in the city centers. As people vacate buildings in the core of the city, you end up with run-down streets and unsafe places that look like a ghost town during the night-time and weekends. Just by looking at photos of Sao Paulo’s skyline at night you can see just how many buildings are completely turned off. These buildings will usually become occupied by homeless people, a group called the “sem teto” or “without a roof.” Drug addicts create their own empire within these abandoned buildings and blocks. One famous neighborhood they took over is called “crack-land,” and its costing the government millions of dollars to clean it up. The trends that we can see in the diagrams are that in the early 80’s and 90’s the population of the city was mostly gathered in the center of the city. The outskirts were home to the favelas, and for the most part it still is. However, the people moving away from the city are leaving a void behind. Sao Paulo is falling apart within itself. History is being lost in the same place where it was born. The crowding of the city center today is primarily by people who don’t live there and only go there to shop for lower priced goods.
Sao Paulo Favelas
CITY CENTER DISTRICTS % DECLINE 3.5 1.99 - 1.00 0.99 - 0.50 0.19 - 0.00 % GROWTH 0.01 - 1.00 0.01 - 1.00 1.01 - 3.00 8.00 - MORE
CITY CENTER DISTRICTS HABITANTS / ACRE / DISTRICT 25 25-65 65 - 100 100 - 145 145 - 200 200 - MORE
CITY CENTER Above Ground Train Tracks Underground Train Tracks Bus Corridors AVG. PEOPLE PER STATION ON BUSINESS DAYS 50 100 200
“In the History of Brazil, violence against nature was and is preceded by violence against human beings, individually and collectively.” -Janes Jorge The River That The City Lost
“…The city goes soft; it awaits the imprint of an identity. For better or worse, it invites you to remake it, to consolidate it into a shape you can live in. You, too. Decided who you are, and the city will again assume a fixed form round you. Decide what it is, and your own identity will be revealed.” -Jonathan Raban, Soft City
“When an open space, be a square, park, plaza, market or what have you, achieves a distinctive character, something that is completely its own, different from all others, the people who are drawn to it and use it, learn to recognize its personality and grow fond of it. They come back again and again until they themselves become part of its atmosphere and personality. And it is
this combination of places and living people, which results in urban open spaces that are organic living parts of the city. Neither the spaces without the people nor the people without the spaces will do the trick.” How to live in a city (1964) -George C. Stoney
“Sao Paulo Nao Pode Pararporque nao tem estacionamento” -Regina Case
“Desire for change drives architecture” -Rowan Moore
“Revitalizing the city center brings back a quality of life in the city. But it also preserves the history of the city that was founded in the center.” -unknown
“NON DUCOR, DUCO” -Sao Paulo’s motto-
“I AM NOT LEAD, I LEAD”
Sao Paulo’s fast development resulted in the violence against, and the degradation of its rivers, which were preceded by the violence against humans. The safety of some areas has led to the crowding of people and businesses, while non-safe areas have been abandoned and forgotten. The unbalance of usable space and dense population has created social, economical, and physical problems within the city center. A system of Urban Interventions aims to relieve that unbalance while restoring the cities relationship to the river, as well as transform the urban fabric of Sao Paulo. What is the unusable space that I am talking about? The type of spaces that offer no connections or interactions with humans. The large patches of green, dead spaces. The areas not easily accessible to most people because of large obstructing infrastructure such as highways and tunnels. The areas that do not offer an incentive for the population, and it can be as simple as a fountain,
to as complex as a museum. Similarly, other types of unsafe spaces, and perhaps the most prominent, are the spaces that have been abandoned by the population. Vacant buildings, vacant neighborhoods, sketchy areas that have a tire shop here and there, areas that are primarily warehouses and factories and don’t offer proper lighting. Broken sidewalks that force the commuter to move to the walk -way across the street and maybe just avoid that route completely. In a city that is so dense as Sao Paulo, it is unacceptable to lack such care and maintenance. People are drawn to areas with more people. People feel safer in larger open spaces that offer human interaction. For this reason, Rua 25 de Marco (25 of March St.) is the busiest street within the historic city center, and the largest open-air market in South America. The place where the Paulistanos go to shop for discount priced goods. On a good day, it will see about 300,000 people a day, and on holidays, nearly half a million.
When we look at the surrounding blocks of this street we can understand why it is such a heavily populated area. The streets are simply “passing by” streets that most people avoid. Because of the lack of available infrastructure and options for leisure, recreation, and culture people slowly moved away from this area leaving it in a decaying state. With a series of interventions, I hope to create more incentives for the population to move back into the city center, more mixed use zones so that the streets can be alive and busy 24hrs of the day, more transportation and accessibility to hard to access area, and finally propose a use for the abandoned buildings. My prediction is that by doing this it would revitalize the city center, and promote development in the nearby areas who suffer the same fate and real estate values would pick back up.
R I VE R TAM ATEI ANDU
City Center Boundaries
Existing condition- Sections moving towards the city center core
SAO PAULO CITY CENTER PARKS
SAO PAULO CITY CENTER - BUS Bus Corridors Bus Stops
ER TY CI
SAO PAULO CITY CENTER TRAINS Subway Lines Above Ground Trains
STRICTLY RESIDENTIAL AFFORDABLE HOUSING
There is a strong border between the zoning areas. Part of the problem in Sao Paulo is the lack of movement in Sao Paulo and the lack of people living within the city center. The city of Sao Paulo is proposing certain areas (Yellow) to be designated affordable housing. The last administration promised 55 thousand new affordable units and only delivered 4 thousand. As Sao Paulo moves away from the manufacturing, and the city center requires more space, the warehouses will begin to disappear leaving behind an empty shell with possibilities for development.
STRICTLY MANUFACTURING MIXED USE
PONTE VECCHIO - Firenze, Italy
OMA - Pleyel Bridge in Saint-Denis, Paris.
Part of the interventions proposed include a bridge which stretches from the west side of the Tamanduatei River to the east. Creating a destination, a tourist attraction, and a functional sky rail station to connect the hard to access parts of the city
THE CHEONGGYECHEON RIVER RESTORATION South Korea
West 8 - Toronto Waterfront
San Antonio River Walk
BRIDGE AND RIVER RELATION
ABANDONED QUARTEL RESTORED
BUS TERMINAL MOMENT
USAGE LEVELS 60 % NON-USED SPACE
25 % HEAVILY USED SPACE 15 % POORLY USED SPACE
60 % NO SAFE
40% RELATIVELY SAFE
EAST AL IN TERM ZA PLA
BUS AL MIN TER
AREA FOR FUTURE GROWTH
The master plan proposal introduces a continuation of the city grid into the park space. On the left side of the river, a residential and mixed-use zone. On the right, a new museum and culture garden space where citizens can enjoy the outdoors and the river. What is lacking from this proposal, which I will adjust, is the lack of connection to the surrounding neighborhoods. It is important that these interventions reach out to them and create point of interest and point of access. More train lines need to reach the north east part of the city and bring them into contact with the center.
DREAMS AND IMAGINATION
Thesis student work #UrbanDesign #Thesis #Architecture #Brazil #Sao Paulo