Ex shop fitting

Down towards the Marginal Pinheiros, one of Sao Paulo’s ring roads, the street is being dug up. Drainage is being renewed, curbs and surfaces relaid, traffic re-routed. It displaces the locals and confuses the visitor – it seems a sign of something afoot in this suburb.

Gentrification in action on the top floor STOP PRESS Road being re-surfaced

In  nearby areas, properties are renovated, chic boutiques open, restaurants flourish: the growing middle class is bringing prosperity to these city suburbs.  The area is mixed use – a mobile phone supplier below, rented residential above, a seamstress next door.

Judging by the sign, this has been for sale for some time.

Everyday life is disrupted by such development, and the old neighbourhood living patterns broken up.

Displaced fruit vendor still trading

The traces of earlier waves of development are evident. Against local opposition, housing was removed in the late 1960s to make way for the extension of Avenida Faria Lima. Outlines of buildings remain, street art forgotten and overgrown.

Avenida Faria Lima

Sometimes a vista is newly emphasised – a church hoves into view, the foliage of a tree is highlighted.

Waiting for the tarmac

This modern gem seems safe, being a university building.

Universidade Paulista (UNIP) law school building …

The water tower is pure War of the Worlds.

… with … is it a Martian Tripod on the roof?

Complete with green street art

It seems clear that small-scale street life is to be dwarfed by the beautiful behemoths of corporate Brasil, although gallery art is included, as in the Instituto Cultural Tomie Ohtake.

Torrre Faria Lima, and Torrre Pedroso de Moraes housing Instituto Cultural Tomie Ohtake

The corporations support local initiatives like this river water purification project and park hard by the Marginal – and if you could smell the river, you’d understand.

View from Praca Victor Civita

The decking is suspended above layered beds, where maize and bio-diesel plants grow, and rain and river water are filtered. Businesses display their CSR (corporate social responsibility) credentials with pride – there’s a sponsored ‘green school’ with an education and cultural programme run by the Sao Paulo city Prefeitura.

Verdescola and other social responsibility opportunities

The destitute and the yoga class mix warily under the gaze of the towers. Such disparity of opportunity jars. Is this truly the best that can be done?