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2018 MCHAP

SESC 24 de Maio

Paulo Mendes da Rocha + MMBB Arquitectes

São Paulo, Brazil

August 2017


Paulo Mendes da Rocha


MMBB Arquitetos (Concept, Design Development and Construction Assistance)


SESC – Social Service of Commerce from Sao Paulo State


Nelson Kon Gal Oppido


Besides transforming the building structure where the department store Mesbla used to work, this social center for leisure and culture also agglutinated a neighbor small building that was demolished to give way to the construction of a technical block reserved for services and equipment. In central void of the main building, which used to serve as an illumination gap crowned by a skylight at the old store section, a new independent structure consisted of four cylindrical pillars support new slabs. To expand the area of the original slabs by nearly 500 square meters, the proposal made the floors continuous. In these new spaces were concentrated uses that need greater voids, such as the theatre inserted in part of parking area (with an independent access) and the double-height exhibition hall. On the top, the new structure supports a new volume, three floor high, congregating cafe, locker rooms and a pool on the roof. The ground floor, named SESC Square, is an extension of the street and most of the spaces in the social facility are open to everyone. The vertical circulation gains potential by a series of ramps that connects continuously the complex program and invites visitors to explore the building.


SESC (Social Service of Commerce from São Paulo State) is social centers for leisure and culture. This unit occupy the structure of the 1940s building where the old Mesbla chain operated one of its department stores, on the corner of 24 de Maio and Dom José de Barros St., São Paulo downtown. In addition to the commercial building in question, the institution purchased two other properties that have been aggregated to the complex. The challenge was transform the monotony of the original standardized floor plans in a complex program composed of leisure and cultural spaces: theatre, library, studios, exhibition rooms, sports rooms and a swimming pool. The project is a prime example of how to build on the legacy of the pre-existing urban environment, demonstrating the virtues of the city’s future life while justifying the use of privileged site in such an iconic part on São Paulo.


SESC maintains 38 centers of activities that bring together its fields of expertise, carried out through programs in Culture, Education, Sports, Leisure and Health. The institution actions aim to develop international and national partnerships for the implementation of music, theatre, dance, circus, literature and visual art projects. In SESC 24 de Maio, no sidewalks separate the walking zone to the entrance of the building, doors are not visible and it indicates that the facilities are open to everybody without constraints. The ramps provides free accessibility to the spaces and contents offered by the institution and enhances the democratization of cultural as a form of individual autonomy and practice. The water mirror in eleventh floor cafe have become children’s favorite playgrounds. The unit was opened in August 19th 2017. Since then, the building has received 1.257.455 people.

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