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BR-São Paulo Mooca, Urban restructuring
With a population of over 11 million, São Paulo is the largest city in the southern hemisphere. The greater São Paulo area, with more than 20 million inhabitants, is one of the most populous metropolitan regions in the world.

The 1600 ha project area of the Operaçao Urbana Concorciada Mooca – Vila Carioca extends approx. 7 km in a north-south direction, approx. 2-3 km in an east-west direction and essentially encompasses the Tamanduateí valley basin; starting in the north, in the district of Mooca close to the city centre and ranging all the way to Vila Carioca in the south. While the periphery of the area mainly consists of small-scale working class districts, the flat industrial hall structures of the manufacturing companies as well as the obstructive railway infrastructure belt, the motorway and the elevated express bus route, are located in the flat centre of the valley. The consequence of this is that today the valley in the east-west direction only has three connections on a stretch of 6 km.

In order to facilitate the connection and integration with the surrounding city districts, these barriers must be decreased and overcome. At the same time, a clear densification process must take place so that these valuable centrally located areas can be utilised for new residential and service facilities. Traditional densification, however, would lead to a collapse of the existing road network. But how can these sometimes contradictory requirements be fulfilled?

The key to the solution of this conflict of objectives can be found in the railway corridor in the middle of the valley. The urban construction concept foresees a coupling of these contradictory requirements and the concentration of development initially on the existing railway line, whereby Transport Oriented Developments (TOD) will have a key role to play. TODs are high density, mixed use projects in the immediate vicinity of highly-frequented public transport hubs. The concept foresees an improvement of the three existing commuter train stops as well as the addition of a further stop within the project territory. The development of the railway stations into efficient connecting points for metro and bus lines transforms these areas into transport hubs. The access routes and extensions in the form of pedestrian zones extend right into the adjoining city districts and thus increase the provision of public transport services in the catchment area by up to 800 m from the respective stops.

The adjoining areas will also be developed on the basis of Transport Oriented Development. The characteristically flat hall structures in the central area to the east of the railway are to be protected. Due to the moderate height and the use of small-scale developments, the new buildings fit well into the existing structure.

In the neighbouring areas of Mooca and Ipiranga, the uncontrolled sprawl of high-rise buildings will be countered by a precise height concept. By means of effective zoning and specific height restrictions, many traditional small-scale residential areas can be protected from new high-rises. In order to provide an outlet for the pressure of development on these vast areas, high-rise cluster zones have been planned for specific areas. These buildings will be found in areas where land or obsolete building structures are available, so that this development appears acceptable. In the case of high-rise building zones, care was also taken to ensure that these areas were close to highly-effective public transport stops.

Several contemporary property developments are adopting a similar scheme. It is possible to use examples in Mooca or Ipiranga to study the prevailing mechanisms: small adjoining sites are bought up in attractive locations until a sufficiently large area is available for the planned development. Subsequently, the existing low buildings are demolished and replaced by high-rise clusters consisting mainly of tower blocks. The site is then surrounded by a three-metre high wall crowned by barbed wire or electric fencing. The restricted and secured access road is the only interface with public space.

Even if the security requirements of the residents are a serious and justified concern, this nowadays common segregation seems more likely to contribute to an unsafe environment. The lack of interaction and social controls creates increased insecurity in the adjoining public sphere. This in turn leads to a rapid devaluation of the surrounding area of these new property developments.

Thus the urban development concept proposes precise rules for the ground floor. The ground floors should to a certain extent be used for publicly effective purposes. In addition to the obvious possibilities such as retailers and gastronomy, which ensure the most intense interaction, further uses could be found for the ground floor: social infrastructure such as kindergartens, schools, libraries as well as offices, doctor’s surgeries or crafts businesses are ideal for the creation of a vital city district. The high pedestrian frequency combined with social control through visual connections between interior and exterior, can sustainably upgrade the public sphere and enhance security.

In collaboration with VIGLIECCA&ASSOC, São Paulo