Urban planning by capital São Paulo is the biggest financial centre of South America. Every ten years new territories are being assigned for investments and construction of new business centers.

It is a displacement of the capital. From the city centre it moved to the avenida Paulista, then the avenida Faria Lima and from the decades of the 90’s on the avenida Berrini became the booming and most expensive investment zone. The 4th agglomeration of companies is being developed at the avenida das Nações Unidas.

Office buildings are one of the demands of the city that keeps growing. Mostly constructed in the form of high-rise buildings, they enjoy the most beautiful vistas.

Origin When the city centre became too crowded (traffic) and too full for the construction of new office buildings, the investors and their capital dislocated to another zone, taking the money with them for the creation of new financial centres. These developments make São Paulo a poli-centerical city.

A bad consequence was the devaluation of the city centre. You still see the remnants of a glorious centre that has been abandoned. Nowadays projects are made for the improvement of it and little by little you see the results. The private sector abandoned the city centre but the public sector never did. It is a pity that both sectors can hardly work together. Still the centre equips 30% of the commerce of São Paulo.

Planning Business axes merely dialog with the city at the beginning. They are just being implanted and you see them as big scratches on the maps without following the grid around them. Public transport does not exist at first and these roads are never made in areas where there is mass transportation. The only avenue that serves as one is the avenida Paulista, because of the presence of the metro constructed in the seventies. Interesting how the profile of a place mutates completely. The fact that these areas do not stay mono-functional but incorporate recreational activities and commerce makes the areas next to it transform rapidly. In the years the city grows through them. These axes generate work and high class settle at the neighbourhoods around them.

Paulista In the beginning of the 20th century the Paulista was a living neighbourhood of wealthy people, full of mansions. The big scale of the street gave the possibility of establishing office building when the settlement of international companies in São Paulo began to grow. In 1970 it became a high-rise financial centre and only one old house remained. The buildings all have a modernist characteristic, which is not occupying the ground floor creating it on pilotis. The ground floor is actually on the first floor.

Faria Lima When the Paulista was all constructed the avenida Faria Lima rose from the ground, again as a migration of the interest of the bigger companies. It is a road without any occupation project. In the beginning it is a huge avenue, completely empty, divided into lots, which are for sale. These lots imply that one building next to another will be developed, which restricts the construction of a bigger project on a bigger lot. The first Shopping of Brasil (Iguatemi) was made on this road and it gave an impulse to develop it more.

Just recently the new extension of the avenida Faria Lima has been finished and it is an example of how it shouldn’t be made. It passed above everything destroying former living areas without considering the pedestrians just a little. These are big roads that help the mobility of the automobile, but mobility is not only the good projects. (Maybe it is obvious that walking is my way of displacement in this city and that explains my lamentation).

Berrini and Nações Unidas             The avenida Berrini was born together with the process of the world economy. It’s not well connected. The buildings are impost. It’s development implied the demolition of a favela. the intention was to reinstall them somewhere at the periphery. This never occurred, and now the favela is right next to it, creating a banal view.

The latest agglomeration of companies is now developing at the avenida das Nações Unidas, around the highway Marginal and on the edge of the polluted river.

Dealing with verticalisation The new office building axes are an example of violent verticalisation. Verticalisation implies an urban design that has to deal very carefully with the access roads. In the Berrini, such as on the other avenues all the offices have a garage which does not dialog with the access road. In the latest agglomerations buildings have been constructed without taking into account the relatively small size of the access roads, creating enormous congestion that can last more than half an hour for cars to enter or leave the buildings. Heliports allowing a quick access are a must.

The public transport reaching these areas is not taken into consideration. That is why many city services are being incorporated, bringing the public space of the city into the building. At the Berrini avenue there are merely no restaurants and the few already existing are far too expensive. So most employees are obliged to eat at the office, which is not much cheaper.

After construction A problem that occurs with these constructions is that the original investors are not the same owners at the end. The American model of office building is being applied using imported materials (and sometimes imported American engineers). Skyscrapers with fully automatic air-conditioning installations covered by glass facades, bringing high maintenance costs for the new owners that are also confronted with the lack of know-how of the local technicians for the proper maintenance of it. For the environment this glass skyscraper is the worst solution.

Out of control The great avenues are important for the development of São Paulo. They bring money and generate contacts. But the scale these roads have and the way they arise without wondering if the city can handle it or not is peculiar. To give an example of the present-day city capacities: the sewerage canals are on their limits, 100% of the city’s water is supplied by reservoirs (the city consumes 67 m3/s and the biggest water generator produces 33 m3/s).

The retirement of the state as big promoter of public works and buildings gave liberty to the private sector. This neo-liberalism became extreme in São Paulo and the state does not control or even regulate the private sector.

By expanding the city these avenues problems are being ignored. They erase all there is and replace it without taking care of all the necessary infrastructure including sewage, water, traffic and above all the social infrastructure. At the end the city problems still remain.

Aura Luz Melis