Cantinho do Céu Complex Urbanization

Boldarini Arquitetura e Urbanismo: The configurations that comprise urban space in the city of São Paulo are diverse and the challenges that must be met in order lend quality urban infrastructure to certain areas are numerous. The forms of intervention in the city, and especially in the consolidated precarious settlements, presume the adoption of design alternatives that take everything that pre-existed on the land into consideration with all its potential and limitations. From this perspective and based on what had been conceived previously in the social and spatial contexts, the transition taking place today in the field of urban planning can be clearly seen. The rationalization of forms and functions of the modern movement and the rupture with the city that exists no longer has a place in the realm of professional activity.

In proposing the urbanization of precarious settlements, the aim is to integrate them into the official city, providing them with the necessary urban infrastructure, qualifying them as a constructed environment that permits individuals to develop within society, without however the need to reproduce the formal standards of neighborhoods that were implemented according to urban norms.
Thinking about and intervening in these areas in a city such as present-day São Paulo is to consider the opportunities for the mobility of that population with the rest of the city, as well as the issues of each settlement.
The process of bringing these settlements into conformity over the years was permeated by diverse experiments and activities by the municipal authorities who more recently have adopted the strategy of treating each of them according to their physical and social specificities, while using the sub basin as the territorial unit for planning and intervention.
The urbanization project developed for the irregular developments that comprise the Cantinho do Céu Complex was developed based on studies and guidelines formulated by the Municipal Housing Secretariat.
Faced with the challenge of intervening in this area, which is a target for public civil action, consolidated, densely occupied, environmentally fragile, with large territorial dimensions and direct access to the Billings Dam, new experimental projects were necessary. Their challenge is to overcome the problems due to irregular, precarious occupation in an area of environmental protection and especially the unsuitable occupancy of the shores of the reservoir, which was worsened due to the lack of basic sanitation. In developing the urban planning project we tried to formulate hypotheses for intervention that aimed to overcome the set of deficits in infrastructure, qualifying and integrating the settlement into the city, conjugating the various disciplines involved, the land holding and post occupancy issues, as well as the form of organizing the population. Against the current of what has been occurring with the new private developments, these interventions seek to highlight the importance of public, collective space both to the city and to society, from the perspective of effectively transforming the social and spatial conditions that reinforce the right to the city and to social inclusion. This is guiding thread of the Cantinho do Céu urbanization project. To reveal the importance of public and community space to the local population, transforming it into the main instrument for qualification of the neighborhood.
This valuation of public space, understood here as the set of elements capable of supporting the widest range of collective daily manifestations – streets, alleys, squares, parks – tries to rescue the sense of belonging to the city as a basic condition for the development of future generations. The Cantinho do Céu intervention has thus been working based on an understanding of the importance of this settlement by virtue of its scale and location in an area which is environmentally strategic for the city of São Paulo.
The urbanization project for the Cantinho do Céu complex, which is made up of the irregular developments of Residencial dos Lagos, Cantinho do Céu and Gaivotas, here referred to as just Cantinho do Céu, in addition to documents, inspection visits and getting close to the place, included a set of strategic relationships, to wit:
– Preservation of life through the correction of all the identified risk situations.
– Urban integration among all the new interventions and the existing fabric, respecting the typological autonomy deriving from the different conditions in which the existing units were produced.
– Completion and adjustments of the urban infrastructure with sanitary, environmental and mobility improvements throughout the settlement.
– Universalization of access to infrastructure and of urban services and adequate provision of community facilities and recreational and sports areas.
– Urban-environmental accommodation of the settlement and the new interventions to the neighborhood as a whole.
– Generation of the conditions needed to regularize land titles for the lots.
The urban and environment qualification of Cantinho do Céu which the urbanization project proposes, is materialized as “everything at the same time,” in which the actions occur simultaneous, orchestrated along the axis of creating public spaces. In this sense, a few words portray our manner of action in these contexts – dialogue and harmony – which are the opposite of imposition and arbitrary actions in the locale. Thus we respect the efforts made in the process of this occupation which in some cases represent people’s life’s work. The first ideas were focused on providing the conditions for access and mobility and implementing the sanitary infrastructure for the residents of Cantinho do Céu, as well as reverting the negative environmental impact that their lack had meant to the water sources and the quality of water supply to the population of Greater São Paulo.
Another important aspect, in addition to infrastructure, was the need to remove the buildings, whether due to the impossibility of connecting them to the infrastructure, or the risky situations to which they were exposed but especially those located along the banks of the Billings Reservoir. This made it possible to turn the area into a park, allowing the population to get close to the water. Work on the conditions for access and mobility was based on an understanding of the existing roads in order to consolidate them. There was a set of proposals to integrate and connect the three developments among themselves and with the surrounding road system. To do so, new roads, alleys and stairways were proposed to assure access to the most diverse points of interest in Cantinho do Céu and to connect it to its surroundings. The configuration of the streets was determined by their importance in the urban fabric and by the type of traffic. The project used asphalt in the traditional way for roads where traffic was most intense, roads with space for pedestrians and cars. Roads with slopes over 15% were paved with reinforced concrete. Streets with less traffic were treated differently, using interlocking concrete paving with a drainage system located in the middle of the street. This alternative distances drainage from the lots, respecting the variation in elevation of the doorsteps. The project solution for streets perpendicular to the park, which are included as lower traffic routes, had the explicit premise of shared use between pedestrians and cars, and of marking the access to the park.
These solutions were applied to the stretch located in the Residencial dos Lagos development, which in addition to the special design of the streets, defined these areas as transition points: where they meet the park, they were colored red, and were designed with distinctive geometry to signal a change in use and make possible their integration into the park. The park occupies a stretch measuring approximately 7 km along the banks of the Billings Reservoir. Its area was drawn based on identification of at-risk buildings and those that would be impossible to connect to the basic sanitation system, i.e., the project surface corresponds to the areas subject to removals, whether those already accomplished or yet to be done. For this phase, we did initial planning, observing the different features of relief, hydrography, remaining vegetation, and existing access. The analysis of these conditioners led to the definition of six stretches for intervention, classified in two groups, one dedicated to conservation and preservation, the other to leisure and recreation.
The park area has very specific conditioners, such that we opted to do the preliminary planning and develop the project only when the removal of buildings on each stretch was completed. Today the installed park runs 1.5 kms and is concentrated in Residencial dos Lagos, and the length was designed and executed by sections as the areas subject to removal were liberated. This method allowed us to develop the project based on the features of the terrain, recognizing their specificity and proposing interventions that highlight the environmental and landscape importance of the reservoir, at the same time that it made possible the integration of the occupations surrounding the park area.
The intervention is comprised of a set of areas destined for preservation and diverse uses such as leisure, recreation, sports and contemplation. We sought to define several areas with specific uses to allow residents of all ages to find a place for leisure, whether skateboarding, walking, playing ball, using the playgrounds, cinemas, decks or other spaces designed for other uses. The park design also incorporated the blind sides of the buildings that faced it proposing that they be treated like panels, using integrated colors and rhythms to compose a landscape with a natural and constructed environment. The free areas act then as a system of green areas, associating the uses of recreation and leisure to the preservations of the shoreline with maintenance and reconstitution of native species of vegetation. The Park is a stretch of community appropriation designating the threshold between the occupied area and the reservoir. The intervention promotes quality of life for residents by using design solutions that value leisure in the remaining spaces and include them functionally in the city.
The result of the urbanization activities undertaken until then go beyond the initial objective of guaranteeing water quality and avoiding the silting up of the reservoir. The intervention promotes quality of life for residents by using design solutions that value leisure in the remaining green spaces while inserting them functionally into the city.

Project Title: Cantinho do Céu Complex Urbanization
Landscape Architecture: Boldarini Arquitetura e Urbanismo
Location: Grajaú district, São Paulo, Brazil
Design year: 2008
Date of Completion: 2011 (first part)
Client: São Paulo Municipal Housing Office
Intervention area: 150 hectares
Park area: 30 hectares
Photos credits: Daniel Ducci and Fabio Knoll