São Paulo (Brazil)
Architects: Urban-Think Tank
Text by Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner, Urban-Think Tank
Rapid urbanization throughout São Paulo’s greater metropolitan region has created an urban condition in which the established, rigid systems of mobility are no longer effective. The modernist idea of what the city should be no longer matches the reality of what the city has become. Our project is a direct response to a framework that no longer functions effectively, and we aim to develop new methods and modes of mobility as a reaction to this current situation.
To this end, we envision flexible mobility systems that will both enable and inspire spontaneous, informal gatherings and productive activity as a means to revive the street, while simultaneously addressing concerns about transportation, livelihood, health, and environment. Surfaces that have been viewed as static can be reprogrammed, either permanently or temporarily, to make them more flexible and multifunctional and open them to a greater diversity of activity. Hybrid-energy systems and their connection to new modes of mobility can also be explored. We are interested in mobility not merely in the physical sense of moving from point A to point B, but in greater definitions of mobility, including economic, social, and cultural mobility. Mobility is not simply about reaching a destination, but about transforming the individual. The aim of our research is to determine the opportunities for these new methods and modes within São Paulo.
São Paulo is one of the most vibrant cities in South America, with a greater metropolitan population of almost twenty million and a long history of both formal and informal development. Since the 1930s, government investment has been geared toward the growth of an extensive car infrastructure, a trend that has affected investment in alternative modes of mass transit and resulted in current issues of congestion and infrastructure limitations. This is a key component of the larger, unequal urbanization process, in which the population density in the central region of the city is reduced, while the occupation of peripheral areas increases. As a consequence, the majority of people within the metropolis face both social and territorial immobility.
For current and future Paulistas, we must negotiate a balance in space and pace within the city. Innovative new modes and pathways of transport are needed to make São Paulo an accessible and inclusive space for all of its inhabitants. To achieve this, we are examining the current programs and pathways in both favelas and downtown areas to discover new spatial possibilities and ways to bridge the divide in mobility between these two spaces. We are interested in reprogramming and reimagining systems and surfaces in order to imbue them with activity, life, and purpose, thereby engendering community and revitalizing spaces across São Paulo’s vast urban landscape.