Destination of the Week: São Paulo

Destination of the Week: São Paulo

By Jaime Gillin
To call São Paulo—the largest city in Brazil and one of the largest in the world—overwhelming is an understatement. To help you navigate this teeming megalopolis, we've pulled together some resources from for the design-minded traveler.

A few years ago, we solicited suggestions from our readers for the city's must-visit architectural landmarks, restaurants, parks and more. They responded with everything from a public park atop a skyscraper with jaw-dropping views to a 1950's flying saucer building by Oscar Niemeyer. Check out our map of São Paulo's design scene, and add your suggestions!

A glimpse at's map of São Paulo's design highlights.

A birdseye view of the city. Photo by Cristobal Palma.

Where to stay while you're in São Paulo? We vote for the relatively new Hotel Fasano Boa Vista. The man behind the hotel’s strong structure and bold design is one of Brazil’s most renowned architects, Isay Weinfeld. With this project, his goal was to create a hotel that looked and felt as peaceful as the nature that envelops it. It's so easily accessible from the city that guests are shocked at how quickly they are transported into what seems like a different world—a world surrounded by lakes, preserved forestry, and stunning gardens.

The hotel’s façade is a stunning combination of wood, stone, and glass. Downstairs, the restaurant allows guests to enjoy the view of a pristine natural lake as they dine indoors or outdoors.

Most of the furniture in the lobby came from local antique shops, which yielded great pieces from the late 60s to mid-70s.

To brush up on your architectural history, check out our profile of the seminal but too-often-overlooked modernist Lina Bo Bardi, who along with her husband, the Italian art dealer and curator Pietro Maria Bardi, was integral in the establishment of the São Paolo Museum of Art (1968), which Bo Bardi designed with four bright-red exterior columns supporting the concrete-and-glass building suspended aboveground. Bo Bardi also designed the couple’s residence, a modern villa above São Paulo called the Glass House, now part of the Lina Bo and P.M. Bardi Institute and open to the public by appointment.

The architect with her side chair designs, year unknown. Photo courtesy Espasso.

The Glass House as it appears today, with the forest grown around it, as Bo Bardi had anticipated—she insisted that the displaced vegetation be replanted just after the house was finished. Photo courtesy Espasso.

Also worth checking out: our slideshow of work by the architect, interior designer, and furniture designer Sergio Rodrigues.

For an overview of some of the most exciting contemporary architecture in Brazil today, check out the work of São Paulo–based photographer Leonardo Finotti. "Brazil: Architecture in Photography," an exhibition of his work, featured 50 contemporary Brazilian projects by 50 different architectural firms from throughout the world.

Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza, winner of the 1992 Pritzker Award, designed his first Brazilian project, the Fundacao Iberé Camargo in Porto Alegre, on a sliver of land along the Guaíba River. Finished in 2008, the museum will eventually house 50 years’ worth of paintings, drawings, gouaches and prints by Brazilian artist Iberé Camargo. The building won the Golden Lion award at the 2002 Venice Architecture Biennale.

And to see the way one family lives in São Paulo today, check out our story about the Chimney House, designed by Studio MK27. As writer Robert Landon puts it, "on São Paulo, [residents] Reinaldo and Piti Cóser are of a single mind. They love it. They would live nowhere else. But that powerful attraction is not based on looks. Vast swathes of the city are regrettably ugly, Reinaldo tells me. 'Very ugly,' Piti agrees." They've solved that problem by creating their own lovely haven—"smuggling a portion of the countryside calm into the city’s chaotic heart," as Landon writes.

From the garden deck, Sophia Cóser talks to sister Helena and mother Piti through a wide, low-slung window typical of architect Marcio Kogan. Photo by Cristobal Palma.


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