D. Pedro II Park
PRESENTED AT THE BIENAL INTERNACIONAL DE ARQUITETURA DE SÃO PAULO, 1997
Architecture: Francisco Spadoni (author); Roberto L. Ferreira, Laís Magalhães, Siméia Carvalho e Selma Faria (collaborators) Paula Moraes, Carolina Fontes, Melissa Paro, Eugênia Comenale, Norie Nakashima and Mario Mancuso (team)
Photos: Tiago de Oliveira Andrade
Location: São Paulo, SP
Project Year: 1996
Intervention area: 118 ha
FOREST IN THE CITY: A MANIFESTO ON WHAT’S LEFT
First act: Dom Pedro II Park
Forest in the city is a project divided into two acts: one that sees it as a hypothesis and another that presents it is a possible solution.
In the first act, the proposal presented at the Competition for Sao Paulo’s New City Center in 1996, recreated for the 1997 Architecture Biennale, the forest emerges as a mediator between interstitial spaces and elevated roads, reinventing an image of nature, which, in this space and condition, is anything but natural.
The assumption was that it would be impossible to use what we still call Dom Pedro II Park, following its historic deterioration caused by the erection of large elevated structures and opportunistic buildings that took place since the 1960’s. However, its decay as an area for public use had begun much before that. The competition extended beyond the perimeter of the park, but in this specific area the issues were more complex, at least with regards to the problems that we decided to deal with.
The forest would be the antithesis of the park (also artificial); its use be prohibited. It is proposed as a way of absorbing the different designs that have been adopted throughout the years, from the original floodplain to the French-style park to the overpasses, resulting in a new whole dominated by thick vegetation. Its shape is defined by the edges of the old park, a forest in a mold, currently the result of an accidental outline created by a channeled river, the side roads, overpasses, etc. At the time of design, D. Pedro Park was the site of City Hall, in addition to a school and a military building. Said buildings would be preserved and their outlines would be defined in order to encapsulate them within the green envelope. They alone. The remaining spaces, composed of residual selections resulting from the construction of the elevated roads, would become part of the new green mass, disabling any form of use by the public and creating only a few tracks amidst the vegetation. Ultimately, we imagined a bio-system that would work on the scale of the city as a type of lung, activating a system of catalyzed neighborhoods around the central area. Those inside, however, could only enjoy it in movement. It is a landscape to be observed in motion, via the overpasses and metro or strolling the paths.
The forest hypothesis in said conditions is a false problem of recovery of a green area. It is proposed, above all, as a negative version of architecture on a large scale. It removes what remains of the built area, filling in gaps so they cannot be used, yet offers, in return, a new scale of landscape for the city.
Second act: Tietê and Pinheiros riverside roads
The hypothesis of a forest as the suppression of urban leftovers would have its second act a few years later, with the competition for the Pinheiros and Tietê riverside roads, between 1998 and 1999. Here a 42-kilometer long urban axis, composed of expressways and rivers, divides the city into three sections: North, Middle and South and concentrates several major establishments in the city: clubs, universities, parks and shopping centers. It constitutes the most radical element of the urban structure of São Paulo, a modern version of what may have been the effect caused by the railway in the 19th century. Its result and symbolism gave rise to what the city has assimilated in the last decades: expressway networks, channels detached from the historic layout of the rivers, critical occupation of riverbanks, and the like, without mentioning the difficulties in crossing.
As with the cities with a Portuguese design, geography sets the limit and the rivers, followed by their respective side roads, make up a barrier that, in the end, would appear as a remnant of a walled city. The occupation of this axis and its margins were the object of the design and, in this case, it appeared to us that the reemergence of the forest hypothesis would work, as opposed to its questionable fit in the City Center proposal. As a type of line, this forest did not have a form, but a development, the result of a typological variation. A typology of the landscape composed of identifiable elements: pathways, green patches / forest sidewalks and river, which take shape in accordance to the available space and configuration of the roadway. The design included a green patch with an average width of one kilometer, drawn up along the axis of the rivers. On the edges, it connects to empty spaces and areas of interest, such as parks or squares, giving continuity to what would transform once more the landscape based on the recovery of green areas.
Certainly, this was not the only element of the complex. To operate on the riverside roads and make reforestation viable, modifications of the underground water supply and sewage infrastructure were necessary. As with the D. Pedro Park project, the idea of construction of a landscape in movement, in this location, would be enhanced by the fact that it goes along the expressways and recomposes a belt, which forbids its use in a stricter fashion. The green ring swallowing the roads and breathing the river air would simply need a new system of bridges to aid crossing, reinforcing the wall that separates the three cities, but allowing them to interconnect more efficiently. Leftovers are filled in, roads are reorganized, and in this case as well, nothing collapses. The city seeks to recover through own structures.