(re)generation

Ten years ago, a nightclub was founded in the heart of Rua Augusta, São Paulo’s red light district; from then on, dozens of different nightclubs, bars and parties followed; an unplanned cultural reoccupation of the central neighborhoods was on its way.

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Vegas Club at Rua Augusta. By Lalo de Almeida

Parties, happenings, cultural events and performances are taking place in long-forsaken spots of derelict downtown São Paulo, like Minhocão.

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“Agora Vai”, carnival on Minhocão. By Mariana Desiderio

The above-ground expressway which cuts through the heart of the city hasn’t been a favorite for some time; it was hated from the moment it was built in 1971, five meters away from neighboring windows. The well-to-do area became overnight a spot for the lowest depths of São Paulo society.

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Avenida São João before Minhocão
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Present days Avenida São João. By Paulo Liebert

Being the city’s most evident symbol of urban neglect, Minhocão was recently turned into the city’s icon for well-humored protest. It started somewhere between the foundation of “Agora Vai” street carnival, Felipe Morozini’s landmark flowers intervention in 2009 and 2010 documentary film “Elevado 3.5” and its onsite premiere.

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“Agora Vai”; carnival on Minhocão. Via “Aqui há sabiá” blog

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Flowers, by Felipe Morozini
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Premiere of “Elevado 3.5”. Via http://www.elevadotrespontocinco.com.br

Minhocão recently hosted a late-night gourmet food market in the context of Virada Cultural (the city’s major annual cultural event); it was also the pièce de resistance of a cultural festival focused on downtown awareness (Baixo Centro); parties, picnics, grass carpets, mappings, swimming pools. What else will we imagine for São Paulo’s ugly duckling?

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Voodoohop party, during “Baixo Centro” festival. By Pita Uchoa
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Food market during Virada Cultural

Raul Juste Lores, journalist for Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo, recently dedicated an article to the subject. “In a society which counts on its governments for almost everything, the kids who take over Minhocão on Sundays are making public policies with their own feet”.

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“Minhocão needs to be adapted so that we don’t fetishize it (no, it is not a real “park”, nor the São Paulo version of New York’s high line)” says Lores.

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Picnic. By Tiago Queiroz for http://www.estadao.com.br
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Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte. By Jacques Seurat

Is it so? Need we look up to similar urban renewal projects, like the Cheonggyecheon in Seoul or the Central Artery in Boston? Or should we keep up the good work of our party kids? Couldn’t regeneration be in the hands of this new São-Paulo loving, fun-loving generation? It sure seems the most amusing path.

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Picnic. By Tiago Queiroz for http://www.estadao.com.br

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