Archives for posts with tag: Avenida Faria Lima

Avenida Paulista is the main thoroughfare in the older business district of Sao Paulo, in the city’s Centro. These days, the offices throng Avenida Faria Lima and the wealthy live in quiet low-rise suburbs like the Jardims, but once the mansions of the coffee barons lined Paulista in impressive displays of wealth. A few relics remain from its time as a grand address.

Catedral Nossa Senhora do Paraíso

Catedral Nossa Senhora do Paraíso

But being Brazil, nothing is quite as it seems. This cathedral building dates from 1952, and is the seat of the largest community of Melkite Greek Roman Catholic Christians in the world. They trace their ancestry to Antioch at the time of the apostles, following the Byzantine rite, in full communion with Rome. Services are conducted in Arabic …

Turn-of-the-century relict

Turn-of-the-century relict

This quiet beauty remains stubbornly anonymous. Government building?

Corner site - listed building?

Corner site – listed building?

Brazil has a system for listing buildings of historical and architectural interest – a listing is somewhat ominously called a tombamento – and the fate of such buildings seems to be government ownership or as in the case of the site above, business premises for consultancies and similar. Since 1991 there have been tax concessions for (regulated) conservation and restoration work on listed buildings, indeed the law applies to all kinds of material cultural heritage.

That may be seen as very little and very late in the case of Avenida Paulista, when you look back to how it was.

Avenida Paulista 1902

Avenida Paulista 1902


And down near Avenida Faria Lima, where the public infrastructure – Metro station and now roadworks and bus station – is gradually catching up with rapid commercial development, a quick solution is still popular. It’s November, shopping starts now; which colours shall we use for our redecoration? The strong Brazilian visual sense is in rude health.

Avenida Teodoro Sampaio

Reindeer on Avenida Teodoro Sampaio

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?

The old Sao Paulo is surrounded. The ‘vila’ houses are still evident in side-streets, dwarfed by the towers of offices and apartments. They command a premium price, although fears about their security also feature.

Rua Irmao Lucas

On the busy thoroughfare of Avenida Faria Lima, office blocks jostle with shopping centres. Begun in the late 1960s, Faria Lima was built at the expense of older residential districts (even more so than Avenida Paulista in the CBD). It is a showcase of Brasilian architecture of the era.

Parking station (estacionamento) on Avenida Reboucas, near Faria Lima

The Brasilian habit of vertical gardening softens the occasional outline …

Planting, Faria Lima

… though other ways to disguise the ferro-concrete box include tile work …

Tile facing, Faria Lima

… concrete mouldings …

Window frames, Faria Lima

… coloured window film …

Angled casements, Faria Lima

… or perhaps something unintentional. Landlords may stop their tenants from installing outside air conditioning units.

Individual air conditioning, Faria Lima

There’s an occasional homage to early US skyscrapers …

Retro-styled block, Faria Lima

… but only the sleekest, chic-est towers depart from the plain rectangular. (More on Ruy Ohtake at

Torres Pedroso de Moraes & Faria Lima. Brasilan architect Ruy Ohtake for Aché Pharma

The tower blocks advance steadily on low-rise housing.

View from top floor, Shopping Eldorado, Avenida Reboucas …

As night falls, darkness and lighting soften their outlines.

… “um vista cartão postal” according to the waiter …

The lights of passing cars, aeroplanes and helicopters animate the scene.

… at Hiro Restaurante Japonês; recommended.

The hum and roar of traffic plays a low continuo for the city, never completely asleep.

Estacionamento, Avenida Reboucas, by night

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