Sunday, August 14, 2011

City at crossroads

While working on a regeneration project in Sao Paulo, its modernist grid, dense urban fabric and wide vehicular road network makes for obvious comparisons to New York. I have visited neither of the cities but only attempt to construct very vague ideas of them based on different media and people who do visit and narrate experiences of having been and lived there.

One of the few things that intrigued me during the course of the project was the difference in nature of the  (Google) satellite images for New York and Sao Paulo. It isn't something that one notices immediately but I feel it could be metaphorical of the dissimilarity between the two cities. While the New York grid lies all in single plane, with every skyscraper casting its shadow at exactly the same angle as the entire city is bathed in the warm sunlight, Sao Paulo's multi coloured towers criss cross with one another to hide and reveal nooks and crevices, private courtyards, hidden pockets of lush greenery etc. The ground plane seems to modulate and fold as it attempts to balance these towers that like shards rise above in multiple directions. The schism between the overwhelming complexity of the site and an extremely advanced technology of 'eye' in the sky is apparent, as even such a technological advancement struggles to find apt representations for this particular human conglomeration. The acknowledgement of this complexity turns the satellite image into a multiple point perspective collage that attempts to voyeur into the 'local'. 
Through the course of the project these confrontational complexities within the site seemed to seep not only in the satellite imagery but also within the design, the collaborations and finally the aggressive global capital that tries to spread its roots in the fabric of the city...making the site of urban intervention an extremely contested territory with multiple points of perspective.
One of the very few projects in the professional space that I thoroughly enjoyed working on. It was very similar to the Regeneration project that I was a part of in Bombay but with only more amplified conditions of densities, dilapidation and pressure towards urban cleansing.

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