Sampaio Moreira – São Paulo’s First Skyscraper

“Built in 1920, Edificio Sampaio Moreira was the first skyscraper in São Paulo and stands in the Anhangabau Valley, in the heart of the city. The area has already been through a golden age and a spell of decline, and is currently going through a period of revitalization.” – Red Bull House of Art (see how it’s currently being used)

“Considered a colossus, at the time, it even scared people.” – Cristiano das Neves, the architect.

With 13 stories and 50 meters in height, the Sampaio Moreira building ranked as the tallest building in São Paulo between 1924, the year of its inauguration, and 1929, when it was beat out by the Edifício Martinelli (with 30 stories). It is considered the first large multistoried building in the city, as well as one of the first in the country to present such typology. Considered the “prototype” of São Paulo’s never-ending skyscrapers – built in a time when other buildings maxed out at 4 stories -, the Sampaio Moreira building is registered as a historic site by the city due to its historical and architectural importance.

(Martinelli on the left and Sampaio Moreira on the right)

More Info

Prédio Sampaio Moreira (in PT, with old photos)
The Verticalization of São Paulo (in PT)

Winning Museum Design Needs Help

Many were saddened when Rio’s Club Help closed and, likewise, many were delighted to hear news of the museum that would take its place. The Museum of Image and Sound (MIS), no less…just what Rio needs (especially when it already has an MIS in their downtown area). I’m sure the residents of Rio’s estimated 1,000 favelas were dreaming about such a day. The irony is that the winning image by a New York architecture firm is just so-so. That is high praise considering the other possible designs.

“The cost of the museum project, which will include extensive external access ramps and windows showing different angles of the Copacabana beach, is estimated at 65 Million Brazilian Real (35 Million US Dollar), including 50 Million paid by the local government. The rest comes from private sponsors including the Roberto Marinho Foundation.”

I wonder what’s the next silly project…

‘Renewable Home’ Report

“Brazilian couple Luiz and Edna Toledo have a home made from rubbish, literally. Not content with building themselves a recycled mansion, the couple now plan to construct an entire community from waste.

With walls made of bottles and a roof of bamboo, Luiz and Edna’s house cost a fraction of a normal building. And now an ecologically sustainable village is on the drawing board. “It’s definitely ecologically and economically sound, I think it’s fantastic. This house is life”, says local Government architect Laura. Could this be an alternative to Brazil’s disease-ridden favelas?”

My Take

Soon, people will stop saying ‘ecologically correct’ and just say ‘correct’ which will lead to ‘legally correct’. While ‘green’ is nice and all, it shouldn’t lead to legal pressure to take away our choices, but the current direction of things says it will.

38 Small, Comfortable Houses in Brazil

In unison with my previous post on the hottest properties in Brazil, here’s a post on creating a comfortable house with restriction on size. The website has an image gallery of 38 small but comfortable houses and a little plus sign below each photo where one can gather more information on each property. The goal is to build smart due to a small property size and that’s what has been done with these houses. The other two goals, or rather, benefits, are a comparitively smaller price tag and a rapid building process. Oddly enough, I’m reminded of a documentary on censorship in Iranian journalism and how the more restrictions placed on what can be written, the more creative the journalist must become. I see a parallel with architects and micro-homes.

A place of well-being, elaborated by the architect Patrícia Martinez, for Casa Cor São Paulo 2008. While the wood floor invites one to walk barefoot, the gravel-lined passages offer a foot massage. The bathroom contains a sauna and the room, a fireplace and corner for exercise. – More Info (in PT)

The building is from 1930 and it was reworked by the architect Carlos Verna. On the outside, the bricks were lightened with a cement cream, chalk and sand, applied with a spatula. Next, the excess was taken off with a sponge. Carlos Verna elevated the house by 50 cm. He also set the garage ramp at 16 cm and two steps at 34 cm. – More Info (in PT)

Thanks to a no-frills, small project, the architect André Guidotti built this economic beach house for a couple in just six months. Integrated spaces and a standardization of finishes helped in keeping the overall cost low. – More Info (in PT)

Inspired by the Polynesian bungalows, the design team of Tais Marchetti and Giovanni Bonetti erected this house in front of a beach in Florianopolis, on a concrete slab supported by columns. – More Info (in PT)

The 2.60 meter high sliding doors made of fallen pine guided the steps of the kiosk (part of the new house). The overhang with a width of 60 cm prevents it from raining inside, since there is no glass closing on the gable roof. – More Info (in PT)

For more houses and ideas, check out this image gallery link and don’t forget Google Translate if you don’t speak Portuguese.

Oficina Brennand – Recife

I was looking at a tourism magazine from Recife called Recife Te Quer, from January of 2008 that a good friend sent me via mail a few years back and I found a really cool building with suggestive sculptures called Oficina Brennand. What follows is a bit on the location and the Pernambucan artist behind it, which I borrowed and translated from the official site. First, a few words on the artist Francisco Brennard, by acclaimed novelist Jorge Amado.

“Today he is unique – him and only him – a Brazilian artist with an assured place in the club of the principal (artists) of contemporary art. Of such importance, that alone he proclaims the universality of Brazilian art.”

Oficina Brennand

The Oficina Brennand came about in 1971 in the ruins of the ceramic factory dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, as a materialization of recalcitrant project of the artist Francisco Brennard. An old brick and roofing factory inherited by his father, installed on a piece of property called Santos Cosme and Damião, it lies in the historic neighborhood of Várzea, surrounded by what remains of the Atlantic Forest and on the waters of the Capibaribe river. The ceramics of São João (the former sugar plantation where the current property lies) became the inspiring source and depository of the story of the Pernambucan artist.

A unique place in the world, the Oficina Brennand can be found in a monumental architectural conjunct of originality, in a constant process of mutation, where the works associate themselves with the architecture to give form to subterranean, dark, sexual, religious, wild and abyssal universe.

The presence of the artist in his continuous work of creation gives the Oficina a daring character, identifying it as an intrinsically alive institution and with a dynamic that leaves the future of the project a mystery, even to the one who is creating it.

Visitation hours are from 8AM to 5PM, from Monday to Thursday and 8AM to 4PM on Friday. The admission fee is R$4.

The Theater of Peace – Belém

Theatro da Paz was built following neoclassical lines, within the golden age of rubber in the Amazon Basin. It is considered the most important culture house in northern Brazil and one of the most luxurious theaters in the whole country. As one can see, it definitely stands out in the modern day city scenario as a beautiful relic of Belém’s past.

The theater originally sat 1,100 people (although today it seats 900) and the curtain was brought in from Paris while the entrance hall is made of decorative materials imported from various regions of Europe. Examples can be found in the English steel in the arcs of the doorways, an Italian marble staircase, French chandeliers and Portuguese stones on the floor. These days, one can find plays, philharmonic concerts and dance recitals going on by checking in with the theater’s calendar of events.

If you would like to see the Teatro da Paz (Theater of Peace) during your trip to Belém, you can find it in the Praça da República (Republic Plaza) in the Centro district. The street it is on is called Rua da Paz.

Narrow-minded Brazilian Architecture

Somewhere in a small town in Brazil, there’s a pretty narrow-minded architect, I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he’s a real stand up guy but his head was a little in the clouds when he made this one…


In the small town of Madre de Deus in Bahia, of just about 4 miles squared, there’s a house that’s three stories high and seven feet wide and believe me, it’s an eye-catcher. The residence comes complete with two living rooms, a kitchen, three bedrooms and a varanda. The owners are two 40-somethings, Helenita Queiroz Grave Minho and her husband Marco Antonio and they live with their three children, Helenita’s mother, sister and one dog…go figure!

On the narrow plot of land, when Helenita found herself unemployed, she decided to build a house and rent it out for extra cash. Marco Antonio thought it was a crazy idea but in the end, he gave in and hired a bricklayer who happened to agree with Marco, saying that not even a fridge would fit in a place so narrow. And you know what? He was right. The family ended up having to take apart their appliances and furniture in order to get them in the house.

At the end of two years of work, the owners became satisfied with the house which was bigger than where she lived previously. Upon having this realization, Helenita decided to move to the narrow house and to rent out the old house, which today goes for around $350/month.

The mayor’s office made a fuss at the start but upon seeing the finished work, gave in as well and eventually accepted the new tourism spot where tourists come to sit in front and take pictures. Now, Helenita and Marco Antonio plan to build yet another story, this time without a roof so they can enjoy the sunshine and a nice bbq.


The 17th Century Comércio District – Belém

(The Firefighters of Pará on João Diogo st. on the border of Comércio & Campina)

I was browsing the net, more specifically the site ‘SkyScraper City’, when I came across some photos of beautiful buildings in Belém. The district is called Comércio and is situated next to Cidade Velha (Old Town) in the heart of Belém. In fact, the district is the second oldest in the city and many of the buildings are dated from the 17th century, reflecting the architectural motifs of the time in Lisbon.

After reading through the comments on the site above, I found quite a bit of information. The main avenue of the district is Avenida Presidente Vargas, probably named so due to the fact that the president stayed in the old Central Hotel (now the omnipresent C&A store). The so-called ‘anchor’ of the entire area is the 4-story department store called Yamada Matriz (the fourth floor is the coveted toy store). If you are in Belém and hear someone say they are going shopping “pra baixo” or “em baixo” (below), they are refering to Comércio in downtown Belém.

Alça-Viária & Bathing at Bica

Pará’s Alça-Viária (lit. Road Ring) is a set of roads and bridges that cross over a dozen huge amazonic rivers which set apart the wealthy metropolitan region of Belém, the misterious Marajó island and the oceanic northeast Pará from the enormous south of the state. Before then, the trip would depend on the will of the rivers’ tides.

This is the biggest bridge of the set and the only one of them suspended by cables. It crosses the 2km-long Guamá river. In its highest part, it measures almost 600m (a third of a mile) from the water below. Some video animations of the project can be found here.


Balneário da Bica

Along the Alça-Viária, at kilometer 33, one can find the small bathing resort called Bica, which is about a one-hour trip from Belém. To get an idea of what it looks like, check out the homemade video. All in all, it has three pools full of mineral water.