Praça das Artes
São Paulo, Brazil
Francisco Fanucci and Marcelo Ferraz
Danillo Nunes da Silva
If, on the one hand, the project should respond to the demand of a brief that includes various new types of use related to the musical and performance arts, it should also respond, in a clear and transformative fashion, to a pre-existing situation of physical and spatial nature, which encompasses intense life and a strongly present community. Further still: It should regenerate degraded spaces, create new grounds for shared living, derived from urban geography, the history of the place, and the contemporary values of public life. In this case, we can say that to design is to capture and invent the place at the same time, in the same gesture.
Beginning at the center of the block, the new building unfurls in three directions – Anhangabaú Valley, São João Avenue and Conselheiro Crispiniano Street. As an octopus, it extends its tentacles and occupies spaces. The main element to establish dialogue with the remaining buildings of the block and the surrounding area is a set of pigmented, exposed concrete edifications, with a total area of 28,500 square meters, suspended over the urban walkways.
Our project begins from within and outward, from the bowels, and takes shape in them. It presents itself to the city as denouncement of a bankrupt urban model which no longer functions; it is no longer applicable to the scale of our metropolis. Houses and small buildings with backyards and ample lots are no longer justified, as they end up giving place to useless hollows. Thus, we have tried to understand that which was obsolete, useless; what had expired of this ancient city planning. The new plan was to make that our raw material in the project. Out of these leftovers or, better yet, out of this bagasse the city had crushed, we built Praça das Artes.
Because of this inception, as a denouncement, the hollows at the ground level were not occupied, not even by columns. Instead, we created a great public passageway out in the open – a place for gatherings, the plaza that names the complex. The new buildings are supported by structures on the edges of the lots, as a result of a form of architecture molded by adversity and restriction, but also, an architecture that does not require scorched earth to serve as pedestal.
The aspects that brought us to this conceptual decision were, precisely, the nature of the place and the understanding of its spaces as products of social-political factors that have been in play for decades – if not centuries – in the development of the city. Everything matters, once you begin to realize that a place is not only a physical thing, but an arena of tension, conflicts of interests, underutilization, and even abandonment.
The old Dramatic and Musical Conservatory of São Paulo, an important historical and architectural landmark of the city that for decades had been unused was incorporated to the complex as a space for recitals and exhibits. Once restored, this edifice was integrated to an ensemble of new buildings which hold the facilities of the schools of music and dance, as well as other installations of the Municipal Theater – the orchestra, the city ballet and choir, the documentation center, restaurants, parking lots, and other communal areas.
Besides supplying the long-lasting demand for a working space for the Municipal Theater, this new cultural complex plays a strategic role in the requalification of the central areas of the city, by giving priority to pedestrians. It stablishes the public aspect of its rich and complex use class program, by focusing on professional and educational activities related to music and dance, in order to foster urban life and shared living.