Saturday, 22 December 2012

Street Art in São Paulo Part 7 - Nunca


Street Art São Paulo Brazil

Nunca, is one of the standout artists of the graffiti and street-art scene in São Paulo

He's been painting the city's streets since the 1990s and uses a sketching style reminiscent of old school etchings. Due to this style and his use of bright colours his works are amongst the cities most easily recognised. As he tends to produce very large high impact murals, it's difficult for his work to go unnoticed.

Below are some examples:

Street Art São Paulo Brazil
Man in a suit holds an indigenous scalp


Street Art Sao Paulo Brazil
Indigineous person watch TV amongst the rubble

He focuses on the confrontation of modern Brazil with its native past often displaying indigenous people in various scenes of interaction or conflict with contemporary culture. In his own words:

"My work centers around the changing, mixing and invasion of one kind of culture by another, and especially the interaction of old and tribal ways of living and the modern way of life"

See more posts on São Paulo street art here

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Vitra: São Paulo's skyline gains a new icon


Edificio Vitra São Paulo

Yes, it’s another skyscraping condominium in São Paulo. Yes it’s in Itaim the supposedly entertaining but boringly predictable mid to upper class neighbourhood favoured by expats in São Paulo. Yes, it will contribute to the verticalisation of São Paulo’s neighbourhoods. And yes, 99,9% of São Paulo’s inhabitants will never step foot inside.

But it’s beautiful.

Vitra, the apartment block which poses as a colossal glass sculpture will provide a landmark building to be proud of, something São Paulo actually has very few. Granted there are many tall buildings, too many one could argue,  but most look identical to the one next to it which in turn looks identical to the one next to it and the one beyond that. The sort of “wow” building that you expect to see (and do see) when you travel to Seoul or Tokyo or Shanghai or New York is strangely missing in the similarly sized São Paulo. Growth has come first, design a poor second.

So take a second look at the the plans Daniel Libeskind has for Horácio Lafer Avenue. The architect better known for his Imperial War Museum in Manchester, The projected L Tower in Toronto or the Haeundae Park Marina in Busan, Korea is launching his first ever project in South America. And right here in São Paulo.

Edificio Vitra São Paulo
Artist's impression of Vitra at night

Vitra has only one apartment per floor, each with a customized floor plan, plus an additional two floor penthouse which one of São Paulo’s many millionaires has no doubt already snapped up. The very smallest apartment will be 565 square meters, beyond most of our means, but then the project was never designed to be modest.

According to Libeskind “it represents the unfolding dynamism of a unique place and an energetic population full of optimism and potential, gesturing openly to a wide panorama of São Paulo it represents the unfolding dynamism of a unique place and an energetic population full of optimism and potential, gesturing openly to a wide panorama of São Paulo”. 

Whether you agree or not and whether you like it or not, Libeskind present to São Paulo’s skyline is already well underway and will be unveiled in 2013.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Why São Paulo – Rio de Janeiro is the busiest air route in the world


The acronym CGH-SDU is probably familiar to most readers of Discovering São Paulo. Many of us have boarded a plane at Congonhas airport (CGH) and chosen Santos Dumont airport (SDU) as our destination, our carioca neighbours doing the same in reverse. In fact, as surprising as it sounds, with 1,130 commercial flights a week there are no two airports in the world with more aircraft movements, the next closest pair being Melbourne and Sydney with 950 weekly flights.



Excluding connection flights if we look at the busiest routes not by plane numbers but by passenger volume (see above) CGH-SDU is knocked off top place by the Seoul-Jeju pairing, Jeju being a small island close to the South Korean capital. But even if the inefficiency of the route means it has proportionally more planes to passengers than other global connections CGH-CDU is still in second place far ahead of Beijing-Shanghai, Cape Town-Johannesburg or Madrid-Barcelona. So what is the reason for such a busy route.

Rios-São Paulo is the second most busy commercial route by passenger volume
The answer lies in multiple factors. The plurality of carriers covering the route is key. In the case of Congonhas to Santos Dumont both high volume low cost carriers such as Gol, the recently taken over Webjet and Avianca run the route as well as the more traditional TAM Airlines. A quick look at the ranking  also shows that most pairings with high volumes are major urban areas in close proximity to each other (short haul flights are more common than long haul ones meaning volume is higher). Another factor is the relative importance of the cities which the airport connects. São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro being the top 2 GDP contributing Brazilian cities making the journey a key business route.

Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo fit all of the above conditions but in addition the local lie of the land and vehicular infrastructure is such that choosing not to fly is complicated; there are no train links and it is 6 hours by car which can take much longer if the weather is poor, the traffic is dense or it is holiday season. This makes the complications of reaching the destination by other means comparable to that of the many island desinations in the ranking (Tokyo, Jeju, Jakarta)

The relatively poorly located and difficulty of reaching alternative airports such as São Paulo’s larger but more isolated Guarulhos/Cumbica or the Tom Jobim/Galeão in Rio also drives airlines and passengers alike to concentrate on “in-city” airports so whilst it is always a “feel good” to head up rankings it is as much driven by poor infrastructure as the importance of the cities themselves.

Food for thought next time you catch a CGH to SDU!


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The secrets behind São Paulo’s extraordinary recycling rates


The figures are breathtaking, to the point of being on the verge of miraculous. ABAL, the Brazilian Aluminium Association’s 2011 figures show that for the tenth (yes, 10th) year running Brazil has the highest rate of aluminium can recycling in the world reaching a new world record of 98,3%. In other words, over 98 of every 100 cans produced in Brazil make their way to the recycling plant before hitting the rubbish heap. Brazil is a vast country so that equates to 2million cans recycled per hour and in São Paulo the system is of such efficiency that the same metal you drink out of today will have a 98% chance of being back on a shelf somewhere in the city within 33 days.

To put that in context, the next highest recycler of aluminium cans is Japan at 92,6%, a highly developed and procedure-focused country. The average for Europe is a shameful 66,7% which in turn is still slightly higher than the rate of 54,1% in the US.

The can recycling business indirectly saves energy due to a recycled can being 20 times more energy efficient to produce than a new one and as a sector injects over R$ 600million into the Brazilian economy per year. Impressive figures but how is that achieved.

Whilst the ABAL and the politicians may point to educational programs, social initiatives, environmental awareness, technlogy and processing chains, the real answer is in the last paragraph. It’s all about the money. Part of the R$ 600million comes from paying for to have these cans searched for and collected by a legion of scrap hunters or catadores as they are locally known.

A catador, or scrap collector, hard at work
No catador is hunting cans for the joy of global environmental impact, rather the can has become the best scrap to hunt. You get more reais per gram handing a can than virtually anything else, and they are thrown out in abundance. It is the cheapest and most efficient recycling system and requires no government investment.

For every 75 cans a catador gets approximately R$3 (depending on the region) whereas a kilo of paper or 20 plastic PET bottles fetch just a few cents. 

The catadores are paid enough for it to be worthwhile for them to eek out a living on collecting cans (rather than other material) but sufficiently poorly to ensure recycling is a highly profitable activity. Pure capitalism at work, ethically questionable, but without a doubt effective as the 98,3% figure shows.

Recycling bins, a rare sight in São Paulo

But before we celebrate here’s a thought for the next time you go to a major event in São Paulo and you see a catador collecting cans: the time he invests in collecting cans he neglects in collecting other material. And without true governmental initiatives, excelling in one sector will by definition mean failing in other. Unsurprisingly Brazil is nowhere to be seen in the ranking of top paper-recycling countries for instance…

Thursday, 8 November 2012

VIDEO: King Cap, new graffiti shop and gallery in SP

Here's the teaser video to the new graffiti shop and gallery King Cap, opening imminently in the pseudo-hipster neighbourhood of Vila Madalena:


The place opens with an exhibition from prolific São Paulo street artist SLIKS. Here are a couple of examples of his work for those of you unfamiliar with him:





Saturday, 20 October 2012

Eric Bergeri's aerial shots of São Paulo




Eric Bergeri is a São Paulo based biologist turned photographer who specialises is fashion and actions  sports. Unsurprisingly he switched his attention to skyscrapers and aerial views when he arrived to São Paulo and has taken some great shots of the city often from unusual perspectives.

Below are a series of Bergeri's photographs taken from a helicopter. In his own words:

"I wanted to shoot some photos from my seat and some others with a wide angle to get some perspective (of) the crazy lines of the tallest buildings. The main problem is that the chopper’s blades are in the frame if one shoots from the door with a wide angle. So, I designed a tool to remotely trigger the camera under the chopper..."

Smart guy. Here are the results:

Banespa building 
Copan building

Football pitch in a favel

Sé Cathedral

São Paulo skyline

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

VIDEO: 7 Billion Others, the São Paulo Interviews



One of the best exhibitions I went to last year was 7 Billion Others which was hosted in the MASP in São Paulo for a few weeks.

It was part of the Good Planet Foundation project and kickstarted by Yann Arthus-Bertrand who you may know from the aerial photo series "The Earth seen from the Sky"

In total 6,000 interviews were filmed in 84 countries by about twenty directors who went in search of the 7 billion "Others" covering very different kinds of people. This was a worldwide project but of course it could not be complete without a prolonged stop in Brazil which in turn could not happen without a good long stop in São Paulo.

I realise I am a bit late on this one but what I recently found were the original videos of all the São Paulo interviewees together as opposed to mixed in with other people from around the world. Like all the others the São Paulo interviews are supposed to show "everything that unites us, links us and differentiates us" through 45 key questions.


Somos São Paulo (We are São Paulo)

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Lunch in São Paulo's Little Korea



I recently travelled to South Korea and, knowing little about what I should expect, I was pleasantly suprised by what I found there. So much so that I now hunt down Korean restaurants wherever I happen to be.

Lucky then, that Brazil has the largest Korean population in Latin America and that cosmopolitan São Paulo is home to most of them. Back in the day emigration was encouraged to reduce unemployment and population growth in South Korea. This population has been boosted by some less official arrivals from the porous border with neighbouring Paraguay peaking somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000, 90% of which were in São Paulo. This has since dropped due to the South Korean economic "miracle" and the "reverse migration" phenomenon it produced.

Still there are 3 neighbourhoods in São Paulo with significant Korean population: Bom Retiro which is shared by many other immigrants and is home to the Korean embassy, Aclimação a middle to upperclass area and Bras, famous locally for its cheap clothes (it's no coincidence that most Koreans work in the textile business, one of South Korea's trademark industries)

Here are some pictures from my lunch last month on the back streets of the Bom Retiro district:

A typical Korean meal in Bom Retiro, São Paulo

Spicy sashimi salad

Hard to order tea if you don't speak Korean!

I still have to hit up on Bras and Aclimação which I've heard has some superb restaurants. To be continued...

Friday, 31 August 2012

São Paulo's Coat of Arms explained

São Paulo's Coat of Arrns

Most readers are probably familiar with São Paulo's Coat of Arms but why does it take this form and what does each part represent? Here is a quick explanation.

Starting at the top we have a crown of eight towers, five of them visible. This is the symbolic representation of a state capital, São Paulo being the capital city of the state of São Paulo.

In the centre we have a warrior's right arm, flag in hand. The flag carries a depiction of the old Christian cross as worn by Portuguese sailors.

The green sprigs of leaves on either side are from the coffee plant, highlighting São Paulo's debt to the coffee industry.

And then of course you have the famous latin motto: Non Ducor Duco which translates as I am not led, I lead.

So there you have it in a nutshell; status, faith, coffee and leadership.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Brazilian winters and pineapple sellers

2012, a chilling Brazilian winter

Above is the weather forecast for the next 48 hours. As you can see the Brazilian winter can be extremely gruelling, sometimes it just gets too hot!

I consider myself quite adaptable and haven't usually had too many problems in integrating myself in a foreign country. Being open minded helps but one of the most difficult parts of this is to forget some of your pre-established associations which have often been ground into your mind from childhood. They have become so ingrained it is sometimes hard to forget them. Inmy case one of these is the idea that a winter should be cold, potentially snowy with scarves and gloves and fireplaces to keep you warm. Not really the case in São Paulo or anywhere else in Brazil for that matter.

On the other hand  one of the advantages of not having been able to unlearn these associations is that you occasionally benefit from very pleasant surprises like I did the other day when I was woken up by a travelling pineapple seller:



Now that's something you don't see too often in the depths of a British winter...

ps. the pineapples were delicious.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

São Paulo in Statistics: The 4th most tweeting city in the world



As Twitter reached and surpassed half a billion users, French social media analysts Semiocast released Twitter data from June 2012 split by world cities and ranked.

Whilst the US is the country which most tweets only New York makes the Top 5 cities, Jakarta, Tokyo, London and São Paulo being the global tweet capitals ahead of it. And as social media matures in Japan and UK we can expect São Paulo to move quickly up the ranking this year towards the number two spot.

São Paulo is ranked the 4th most tweeting city in the world

This week Twitter's Adam Bain announced the opening of a Brazilian office, date and location of which is yet to be confirmed. What are the chances they open it in the 4th most tweeting metropolis on the planet?

More São Paulo in Statistics here

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Qatar Airways 24 hours in São Paulo

Qatar Airways has launched a "24 hour in" set of infographics on selected cities around the world.

Below is São Paulo (see if you can spot the MASP, the Copan, Hotel Unique, the Sé Cathedral, Estaiada Octávia Frias de Oliveira bridge, they're all in there amongst the high rises and helicoptors) alongside some other cities I have had the privilege to visit or live in:








The illustrations are by Fernando Volken Togni a young illustrator from Porto Alegre in South Brazil.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

VIDEO: Inside the cockpit from Rio to São Paulo


If you are one of those people who are curious to see what happens in the pilots cabin during a commercial flight this video is for you. Below is a complete run through of what happens from pre-take off to landing on an Airbus A320 flight between Rio de Janeiro (SBGL-Galeao) Intl and São Paulo (SBGR -- Guarulhos) Intl.

For the airplane geeks amongst us you will appreciate seeing the maintenance status check, walk around, flight preparation, take off, climb, cruise and approach procedure to São Paulo finishing with a 20km crosswind landing at Guarulhos.

Fortunately for those of you who don't speak Portuguese it is all in English:



Below is a copy paste of the top 2 FAQs:

1- What were you thinking at 08:56?
A last minute luggage arrived just after push and start clearance was requested. Ground staff were wondering if would be possible to re-open the cargo door... so I was thinking how bad would be for someone to get to their final destination (in Chile) and find out their luggage was left behind... so I authorized the cargo doors to be quickly opened to put that in....

2- What are the PACKS that you turn off before takeoff?
Packs 1 and 2 are air conditioning machines just like on a car they will steal power from the engines, so we turn them off just prior to takeoff and turn them back on after climb power is set. This will save some fuel and make some extra power available if needed

Monday, 16 July 2012

The new advert for São Paulo's amusement park (Hopi Hari)


Hopi Hari is a fictional country located 80km outside of São Paulo. In reality it's just a theme park, the only "residents" or "Hopius" being the amusement park employees who presumably are fluent in Hopês (Hopi Harian language). However it somewhat incredibly attracts 5 million visitors a year which is more than the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugar Loaf mountain put together!

Inside Hopi Hari land you'll find delights such as the Klapi Klapi, the Rio Bravo, the Bili Bili as well as the Eiffel Tower ride (out of which someone actually fell and died earlier this year so you might want to think twice about this one). But the star of the show is the new Montezum which is billed as the largest rollercoaster in Latin America.

Below is its new advertising campaign aimed at getting you to confront your fears:


I thought the frightened fish was a cute metaphor for a sushi-mad Paulistano public. Well done Young and Rubicam.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

São Paulo vs Buenos Aires - The rivalry in graphics


Inspired by the hit blog Paris versus New York, a Sampa versus Buenos Aires spin off has been created by Vivian Mota which covers an illustrated vision of the rivalry between South America's two greatest cities: São Paulo and Buenos Aires.

They are good humoured, tongue in cheek comparisons of the best of both cities. You need a little background knowledge of the respective cities and their cultures but if you're lucky enough to have that you will definitely appreciate the these prints.


Below are a selection of my favourites. For those of you who have been paying attention to recent sporting events, the fourth one down is particularly topical. And if you really like them , you can even buy them on the official site.









And the winner is... Sampa, of course!!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

São Paulo in Statistics: The city's top 11 problems according to its voters



According to Datafolha and looking ahead to the local elections, São Paulo's voters have named the top issues they perceive the city is facing. The biggest problems identified in order of importance are:

Health 26%
Security 16%
Public Transport 15%
Flooding 6%
Education 6%
Transport 6%
Waste / litter  5%
Pavements 3%
Drug trafficking 2%
Housing 2%
Unemployment 2%

This does away with the stereotype that drug trafficking are a major concern for São Paulo residents, in fact the state of the pavements are perceived to be a bigger problem.

Personally I was surprised to see flooding so high up but it is true that the city is badly prepared for the downfalls it receives and for those whose streets are regularly affected it presumably bounces straight to number one priority.

Also interesting for European (or North American) eyes is the fact that unemployment only just scrapes in to the list of problems. If the same survey was carried out in Italy, Spain, Greece or Portugal it would be interesting to compare the percentages..

Friday, 29 June 2012

São Paulo's Top 5 Facebook check-ins

Ibirapuera Park is currently the number one check in to landmark in Sao Paulo

Facebook is well known for hoarding vast amounts of personal data and keeping it in isolation from the rest of the "free" web. Occasionally, however, it releases some aggregated data and gives us a snippet of insight.

For example, a list of  most checked in to landmarks around the world was recently released which allows us to have a quick look at where in São Paulo users are most checking in to:


Transportation hubs such as airports, train stations, and bus stations were excluded so we can presume that one of or both Guarulhos and Congoonhas airports were denied a top 5 ranking...

And whilst smartphone users who use the check in funtionality of the facebook app are not necesseraily representative of the city's population it still makes an interesting portrait of the city; parks, shopping, food, football and music. 

Those at least are the things Paulistanos want their friends to know they're doing as opposed to what they might really be doing i.e. being stuck in traffic, spending long hours at work, etc...



Tuesday, 24 April 2012

São Paulo by Ty Wilkins

São Paulo by Ty Wilkins

Ty Wilkins is a graphic designer from Texas, among his fantastic designs is the one above of São Paulo. For more click here

Friday, 20 April 2012

Subliminal broadcasting of the shape of São Paulo

São Paulo, a rhombus-shaped state

If you have lived in or visited São Paulo you will almost certainly already know what the state of São Paulo looks like geometrically. A quick look at a map of Brazil will show you Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro states to the north, Paraná to the South and Mato Grosso Do Sul, inland. In between is a lozenge-shaped state called São Paulo.

But most often you will have seen this shape, not on a map but in the city itself, on signs, roads and vehicles. Apparently independent symbology is actually derived from the shape of the state and once you become conscious of it, its omnipresence becomes apparent.

Below are some day to day examples, there are, of course, many more:

No smoking signs in the shape of São Paulo
São Paulo state flag flying in the shape of São Paulo

Decorative pavement tiles in the shape of São Paulo


Police cars embossed with the shape of São Paulo



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