29 March 2009

A home with a garden

This family with dogs occupy a patch of grass between two of the busiest roads in the centre of Sao Paulo. They've set up some kind of shelter at the far end. I think of the old fortresses with moats around them for protection, in the same way this family has found it's sound island in an ocean of sharks. The dogs are the guardians if anyone should trespass all the same.

However bizzare, this is not a uncommon living situation in Sao Paulo. I've observed more permanent settlements in similar situations, some that has even planted small crops of corn on these 'gaps between'.

17 March 2009

A school of architecture will always be a school of architecture

Approaching Faculdade de Arquitetura e urbanismo (FAU) I found a peacefully placed block of concrete in the midst of trees. It reminded me of my own home school of architecture in Norway, Bergen School of Architecture (BAS), which is also a big block of concrete, however vertical. The mild climate allows a fully open structure into the interior, and only auditoriums have walls and doors, not to keep warm or cool, but for acoustic reasons.

The first days of school was nothing but carnival performed by the fresh students. Samba drums were played, body paint distributed and sleeping in the halls after singing and dancing.

FAU has four floors connected by wide ramps where students circulate. On the bottom level is a large auditorium and some offices, and the ceiling is penetrated by bright daylight. The middle of FAU is a large space filled with the immensity of just air.

The main floor is used for multiple purposes that require space, like an exhibition. Just now there's an exhibition of Brazilian projects that has received recognition from FAU.

First year students cleared the exhibition for a couple of days during their nude studies. A cultural difference from Norway, where nude studies would be performed in a closed space in respect of the models. There generally seams to be much less sexual taboos in Brazil than most places I have been.

Overlooking the main floor comes the library, the diner, print shops, offices and computer labs. On top are the five open studios and finally a corridor of the many smaller auditoriums.

The rough interior of FAU allows for messages to be written with chalk on the walls concerning changes of location and such.

12 March 2009

Inland ships

Raging mega structures, residential giants, are found all over São Paulo. The demand for housing in this ever increasing city is never ending. However many of them are totally abandoned, whilst more than 2 million people in San Paulo have nowhere fixed to live. The ecomonic difference between rich and poor is so big it's impossible for someone on the lower level of the ladder to afford decent housing. There exists organizations that storm such buildings to squat there, because 'if you don't have an address you are nobody.'

The picture above shows one of these clusters 10 minutes from my house near the centre of town.

This second picture is a newer stucture in the calm area of Villa Madalena, the alternative area of town. It used to be populated by artists and Paulistanos like describing it as the citys 'Soho'. Now it is however a popular place for upper class citizens and students from this respective social class.

11 March 2009

What's this?

San Paulo is full of concrete structures which simply leaves me quite puzzled. These ghosts stand out like remains of giant beasts, ignorant of winds and rains. The functions of these massive scelletons are often not apparent, and many times I cannot tell wether they are in any kind of use.

I'm very fascinated by them. My mind wanders to another world where living beings occupy only spaces like these. What kind of lives would they lead? Architecture has the ability to change us and is always a mirror of life.

09 March 2009

The big cities

Big cities have a certain smell. Absence from them makes me forget. But then, on the first morning in the big city, standing on the balcony before breakfast, there it is again. It's a mix of smog and people and construction, air and humidity. I'm reminded of New York and Bangkok and New Delhi, and with them a world of memories of past experiences. And I miss a magic jar to collect the smells of the big city.

This first picture is from the balcony of the apartment of a friend where I stayed the first week. San Paulo extends to infinity in all directions. It has 11 million people in the centre of town, and San Paulo metropolitan area is third largest in the world with more than 20 million people.