Politics of the Big Block in Sao Paulo Heterogeneous Grid
‘A new scale: …no formula for the contemporary expression of the world. See with open eyes.’ – Oswald de Andrade, Manifesto Pau-Brasil
Intermediate Unit 8 will continue to work on the design of a block in a Latin-American metropolis. This design will interrogate the civic role of large buildings in vast policentric cities, considering for it the coexistence of public and private premises. The block will be located within Sao Paulo heterogeneous grid, and its size will range between 90 and 150 metres in each of its sides depending on the chosen neighbourhood.
Being one of the first countries opposing neoliberal policies widespread in Latin-America, Brazil has become a reference for an alternative model of economic and social development. Sao Paulo, its economic centre, has a fragmented urban configuration full of contrasts consequential of a rapid economic and social growth. Each of its fragments is a result of different negotiations between government and private investment, what has left a disjointed urban grid with no continuous street wall, full of interior borders and lacking urban cohesion. The unit proposes to work within this heterogeneous grid to explore a policentric city model and the fundamental role of large urban blocks in bringing centrality to each urban fragment by their civic performance.
For this purpose, the structure of the academic year will be divided in three interrelated parts. 1. Field: Maps, photographs, indexes and observations on social, cultural and economic issues in the city that will inform the programmatic brief of the block and its civic role within the city. 2. Form: Analysis of formal spatial configurations that will articulate the block programmatic content. Some examples of Paulista School architects, such as Vilanova Artigas, Bo Bardi and Mendes da Rocha, and large urban block proposals by other contemporary authors will be studied. 3. Interface: Studies on the responsiveness of the block, focussing on the relationship between the city and the block and qualities such as porosity, permeability and interaction will be explored through model making in a wide range of scales and larger material tests of building envelope. Finally, the unit will prime portfolio development and a holistic understanding of the design, investigating different possibilities of the axonometric view.
Image: Asaad Bazraa Intermediate Unit 8 (2012-13): Dependency vs Autonomy: Challenging the conventional notions of contemporary multi-faith spaces through a plural religious block proposal in Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Palermo.