Arte Cidade Urban Fabric – Vazio S/A

Schie 2.0/ Urban Fabric
Carlos Teixeira

This text was commissioned by the philosopher-curator Nelson Brissac to the still unpublished “Arte Cidade Zona Leste”. With projects spread through Pari, Brás and Zona Cerealista districts (in the east of downtown São Paulo), this one, which was the last Arte Cidade (a biennial of urban interventions conceived by artistis and architects) tried to extend the project in an urban scale. One of them was an intervention by the overpass on Avenida Raquel Pestana by the Dutch collective, that I comment bellow.

Deprogram, reprogram and cross-program were frequently used verbs in the late eighties. The issue of the “event” was at the time the focus of the investigation of certain theoretical architects who used to describe the buildings in Tokyo or New York as someone who sees a brand new inspiration for architecture; as if the unconventional overlap of programs in the same building was a quality of large cities that can be translated explicitly in the architectural design.

High density and high cost of space, when combined, give room to mixtures of surprising uses. This building of tens of restaurants piled up on shops and offices and the shopping malls that are also exits to the underground, brothels and gyms used to be admired by Bernard Tshumi, Rem Koolhaas and others. But these mixtures are not prerogatives of those cities: they occur with other peculiarities in the poor cities of Southeast Asia, in unfamiliar cities of Africa and, of course, forgotten islands involved in the large bags of affluence in São Paulo. If today the handling of unusual programs is a matter already settled in architectural discourse, this means a manipulation strategy also increasingly present in the practice of urbanism. It is within this trend, I believe, that the design of the architects of the Urban Fabric / Schie 2.0 seeks to undo a clear trend of São Paulo: prevalence of private interests over the public interest. And to subvert this schedule imposed by the narrow interests of those who produce the city, the architects propose the insertion of new uses in underutilized spaces that can be transformed into public spaces, activating places with no specific use and appropriating areas not appropriable by the private sector.

In a certain way, the proposal is like going back to the less commercial times of São Paulo, when leisure was less private and more spontaneously appropriates by the East Zone population. The same viaduct that sectioned the D. Pedro II in various parts continues east, also sectioning the Avenida Rangel Pestana.

The proposal is also a bet on the “grey ecology”, on a better quality of urban life imagined from the already existing (eco) systems urban city, even being considerably damaged, made with negative spaces, with the remains discarded by the property market. If built, the “swimming-poolduct” would be a denunciation of evidence: now there’s only the air space as public space left, everything else has been invaded by the market. We can still imagine the unexpected programming of the space; wait for new pavements over or by the overpasses, streets and sidewalks, as in the adventure “Concentration City”, by J.G. Balard. In this story, the main character, an inhabitant of a city of impossible proportions, spends several days in the same underground rail trying to discover where the end of the city would be or if there was still any trace of “vertical green area” among the buildings. After several weeks in a claustrophobic underground trip, he realizes that his goal was unattainable: he returned to the starting point without finding what he was looking for, and most importantly, always walking to the east and on the same line … Things may change before it is too late, before the current scene is confused with the fictional dystopias. And these gestures as the architects and the entire City Art are a hope in that direction.

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