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The Streets of São Paulo

Metropolitan São Paulo has a population of roughly 20 millions inhabitants on a surface of roughly 8,000 sqkm. Still, São Paulo is a city, not a country. A city made of the same amount of objects accumulated in the space of a country.

Even if São Paulo is a very defined urban ensemble, the product of a precise interpretation of a very particular landscape, the metropolis does not produce a detailed picture in the memory of its own inhabitants. São Paulo is a city no citizen can claim to know entirely. São Paulo is a field covered with a repetition of extremely similar objects: shopping malls, gas stations, logistic centres; all of them almost the same, impossible to recognize, impossible to localize.

São Paulo metropolitan identity is complex because it combines a very precise geographic condition with an entirely unclear local condition. Objects do not have a xed location in the collective memory. They float like rafts swinging in the infrastructural stream.

São Paulo is a very specific interpretation of a very specific landscape. Valleys became highways and hills became micro-cities, either favelas or rich neighborhoods or infinite nuances in between the two, does not really matter here. The original landscape has been redefined; re-designed, re-built, creating a new geography that formalizes the original one. Confrontation with nature has been ruthless and sometimes catastrophic but not disrespectful.

São Paulo is a city for the car. All infrastructures, starting from the questionable but very precise strategy envisioned by Francisco Prestes Maia; engineer and later mayor of São Paulo in the 30s, has been built for the car. The majority of São Paulo inhabitants do not own a car.

São Paulo is not only a city for the car. Paulistas do walk in the city. The micro-cities have only a relation to the large-scale infra-structure, but they are entirely isolated from one another. With an overall extension of metropolitan highways of ca. 370 km, in São Paulo there are only 150 pedestrian bridges crossing over the roads, that makes a pedestrian connection every 2.5 km, way too little to produce a city accessible to all its inhabitants. This evident need of the city, combined with the need for public facilities particularly in the informal areas, provides an opportunity to imagine a new type of public space with pedestrian connection for metropolitan São Paulo.

The new bridges operate in the city in two manners. At the local scale they relate to the neighboring urban tissue, adding connections and eventually program, at the larger scale, they are big elements appearing while driving along the highways. Bridges introduce a new element in the geography of the city, creating a sequence of objects to be perceived in succession. The recurring figures of the bridges frame the experience of the drivers. Bridges operate as large-scale billboards, immediately monumentalizing the public programs associated with them. The bridges are decorated with schemes associated with the colors of the city and of the state of São Paulo. They precisely react to a context while unconsciously acting on collective memory of São Paulo. The bridges appear and disappear and reappear in the everyday experience and producing a sequence of images. Bridges frame the endless drive through the roads of São Paulo, all the same, and all different.


architectural design: © Ryoichi Aida and all collaborators
collaborators: Sanne van den Breemer, Patricia Fernandes, Kyung Su Jung, Heejung Kil, Githa Hartako Ong, Ariel Vázquez, Si Wu
tutor: Pier Paolo Tamburelli , Maria Chiara Pastore
map and collages: © Ryoichi Aida and all collaborators

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