top of page

São Paulo: The rescaling of railway infrastructure and new models of domestic life


Urban / Regional scale


São Paulo, Brazil


Applied Research Project


Konstantina Tzemou, Maxime Faure


Urban Development, Masterplan, Housing

In a metropolitan context marked by large substances of post-industrial land, the project investigates how the departure
from the 1960s notion of investment in private mobility and the subsequent release of centrally located land, may lead to
the reactivation of public realm and the definition of new types of domesticity for the 21st century. As a first step, domesticity is defined within a larger metropolitan milieu, on the middle ground between the dense urban core and the dilapidated post-industrial land surrounding the city’s river. In order to achieve the scale and realm of sustainable urban living, the city first needs to relieve the urban core from heavy mobility and from the residual, poorly-used land that accompanies it. Under this frame, the project suggests the organization of a new, distributive fabric, emerging from the city’s inherent grids. This new fabric not only allows for the recalibration of congestion within the metropolitan core, but also sets the ground for the definition of new modes of domestic life starting at the metropolitan scale. 

As a result of the re-balancing of grids, a new scale of urban lifestyle is defined within the re-framed urban block. This block now performs in a dual manner; on the one hand, it represents a new centrality for the city where divergent mix-use typologies aggregate around a large shared amenity and on the other hand, towards the edges of the urban block, public space gets refined, gradually distributing population to an aggregation of housing typologies characterized by multiple ownership.

Delving into the specific case study, the project explores the organization of the urban block at the moment where the intersection of two major infrastructure corridors occurs. This is the moment where the artificial corridor devoted to railway infrastructure meets the natural corridor of the canalized river. The primary goal of the proposal has been the integration of the infrastructure components within the urban block in such a way that new types of domestic and urban life could emerge. For this purpose, a new common ground is constructed, at the center of which landscape techniques effectively integrate infrastructure and provide a shared amenity for the population that inhabits the block. The once residual space of the canalized river is now transformed into a recreation corridor that invites population in the interior of the block formation. Towards the four corners, where the block situates itself within the urban fabric, the organization splits into four individual quadrants. Each of them proposes a specific identity by introducing sports facilities, children’s playgrounds, publicly accessible swimming pools, or even a large flea market. All the four different types of amenities address the need of collective living of a community long being segregated by large infrastructure. 

While featuring a variety of uses and lifestyles, the type of domesticity here proposed is one that combines the private and intimate space of the housing module with collective spaces, expressions of the idea of a shared economy at the intersection of public and private investment. In an effort to generate mix-use and mix-income housing standards that respond to the contemporary needs of a metropolis like Sao Paulo, the project finds ways to challenge the United Nations standards of 80m2 for a family of four. By combining living with productive space, the whole economy of domesticity is alternatively defined. At the same time, the typologies look to take advantage of Brazil’s climate by introducing cross-ventilation and intermediate, semi-open, spaces of collective expression. Therefore, the continuous transition between, the private apartment unit, the intermediate, common space as well as the congested, public ground, is the way we propose that the new urban block will operate as a plural whole.

bottom of page