Sao Paulo through the eyes of an architecture and environmental design student

As part of the Latitudes Global Studios, 20 University of Westminster students and 2 tutors engaged in a winter workshop last January 2017 in Ahmedabad, Tromso, and Sao Paulo. Read on as one of the student participants in the Sao Paulo winter workshop narrates her trip and day-today activities in Brazil. 

Day 1

On arrival to São Paolo, we visited the University at Vila Panteado and were briefed on the activities and schedule for the week ahead. The sites were introduced for the project. There was also a Skype conference with Nasser Golzari and the team at London for the introduction of the London sites for the students at FAUUSP. It was followed by a walk around the city through the sites.

The buildings show the typical planning considerations of North-south orientation with blanks walls on the east west side. The north walls are also treated with the traditional cobogo wall which allows better ventilation of the spaces; other contemporary modern buildings have glazed windows and are air conditioned.The COPAN building is a modern building designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer in the 1950s and a symbolic building depicting the dynamic transformation and verticalization of the city (

Each of the buildings above illustrate the use of a typical architectural treatment of buildings in São Paulo, with use of louvers in windows, the projecting balconies and the cobogo wall treatment.

Day 2

We visited Joana’s residence at Vila Panteado, which is an excellent example of passive strategies to building design with proper planning, choice of material and ventilation strategies.The living room is characterised by large window and a balcony. The open plan between the living, kitchen and dining is divided by a ceramic finish, perforated wall (exemplifying a cobogo wall). The windows operate 100% with a counterweight mechanism with provision for separately controlling the louvers, plain glass and the netting.

During the other half of the morning, we visited the site to carry out site evaluation of parameters as Air temperature, Relative Humidity, Sound levels, luminance, wind speed and direction. The site characteristics were also noted. Our group selected site 2, which is currently used as a parking space.

The following afternoon we went for a walk on Minhocão, which is a highway closed to traffic on Saturdays. The buildings were a mix of modern and post-modern era and had characteristics as the green wall in addition to others mentioned before as the use of cobogo wall, louvers and projecting balconies.

Day 3

The day was off, in the morning we went to the Tropical Forest and in the afternoon we headed for the MASP, the Museum of Art, and an iconic building and a landmark of 20th century architecture with the use of concrete and glass. The huge span and the open plan in the building are subtle characteristics of the MASP.

Day 4 

In the morning we visited the site for additional study and then we had lecture series by Rosa on evaporative cooling followed by Joana on environmental strategies for São Paulo. In the afternoon we visited the Conjunto Nacional. The building is characterised by huge spaces serving as thorough fare between adjoining streets and with soft and hard landscaping on the third floor from where the residential, office and hotel blocks of 25 storeys spring to existence. It is one of the first modern multifunctional buildings in Sao Paolo. The building also has a centralized waste collection and recycling system.

Day 5

The morning started with introduction of CSTB method for peak summer internal temperature. Then we visited some buildings around the campus.

In the afternoon we visited the COPAN building and looked at the city from its roof level.

Day 6

Given my gouty condition I could not go to visit the Favelas but in the afternoon I went out to visit some places.

Day 7 

Visited the FAUUSP, had lecture session from Juan, Eduardo and Mulfrath. We visited the library too.

Day 8 

The final day started with presentation from the FAU students and then a workshop titled “Zero carbon Sao Paulo 2050”was organised. The output of our group is as below it was centred on walkable city by reducing road width and increasing pedestrian and park spaces, use of local material, creation of potential matrix to harness the most that the site and building can offer, permaculture with emphasis on balconies and walls with vegetation and some vegetables (on space allotted for laundry!) and the use of existing parking spaces for growing fruits, vegetables or creating parks – the need for government and social intervention to make cities more friendly to people and ecology than cars. Later we went to the local market.

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