Monday, 19 March 2012

What São Paulo's metro will look like in 2030

São Paulo's metro network in 2012
Despite the size and importance of the city São Paulo has one of the youngest metros in the world, line 1 having been constructed only in 1968, with the other 4 following afterwards. It is regarded as modern by regional standards and is complemented by over 250km of suburban rail estension (CPTM) some stations of which allow transfer to the main metró network.

Nevertheless the system is simply not extensive enough for the population it aims to serve and witnesses notoriously busy rush hours so it's no surprise to hear speculation over which new lines or stations are needed and what is planned for the future.

Less common, however, is to receive an insight into what transport improvements are truly planned by local authorities. Below is São Paulo government's alleged projection of what the network should look like by 2030.

Vision of São Paulo's metro and rail network in 2030

As you can observe that's an awful lot of lines yet to be built and, as anyone familiar with timings on Brazilian projects will know, all we have to do now is wait (and hope)..

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Vintage photos of São Paulo from the 1960s

Below is a selection of postcards from the 1960s which illustrate just how the city of São Paulo has changed in just 50 years. Amongst other things it gives us an insight as to why Jardins is called Jardins (gardens) and why the airport runways at Congonhas airport are so short.

São Paulo 1960s

Jardins, São Paulo 1960s

Pacaembú, São Paulo 1960s

Largo do Arouche, São Paulo 1960s

Praça da Sé, São Paulo 1960s

Congonhas airport, São Paulo 1960s

Monday, 5 March 2012

São Paulo in Statistics: The largest suspended sky gardens in Latin America

São Paulo: greener than it appears

São Paulo’s reputation as a cement heavy urban sprawl is merited only to a certain extent. The São Paulo City Green Belt Biosphere Reserve (GBBR) is one of the globally celebrated examples of green belt political protectionism. Admittedly it is a response in part to urban sprawl and was born primarily out of popular demand but it has been in place for 18 years already and protects 6,000 km² of highly vulnerable Atlantic rainforests and wildlife reserves.

The city itself has 55 square metres of green spaces per person which although not exemplary, is a respectable amount in a Latin American context and São Paulo is not standing still: the recently approved Agenda 2012 plans for the construction of 50 new neighbourhood parks and three city parks along the Tietê River, in addition to planting a staggering 800,000 trees in the short term future.

These are not the only signs of positive green discrimination in São Paulo politics. A good example can be found at the heart of São Paulo governance, on the roof of the municipal mayoral building, the Predio da Prefeitura de São Paulo. Whoever ventures to the top of the building will find the largest suspended roof garden in Latin America. 

Aerial view of the roof of São Paulo's administrative headquarters

Both practical and economical it’s a wonder this is not more common both in São Paulo and elsewhere considering the environmental benefits. Below are some of the advantages of suspended gardens:

  • Air and soil quality improves, carbon is absorbed and many pollutants are kept away from the soil substrate
  • Lives of building are prolonged by alleviating over heating of rooftops and absorption of acidic rainwater
  • The gardens go some way to restore flora and fauna that was originally displaced by the city. This is especially relevant in São Paulo as the city was previously dense Atlantic rainforest
  • Air humidity is increased reducing the need for artificial humidifiers
  • Noise levels are reduced by the extra foliage

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Latin American Green City Index São Paulo is beaten only by its compatriot Curitiba in an assessment of the greenness of 17 Latin American cities and scores above average on Energy and CO2 emissions, Transport, Water, Land Use, Sanitation and Waste indices. So, whilst it is easy to bash São Paulo for its urban sprawl and uncontrolled development, it is unfair to measure it out of its Latin American context and if we avoid that we quickly  discover that not all is grey in São Paulo, there’s a lot of green too.

Click here for more statistics on São Paulo 
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