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New Wave:

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New Wave

In São Paulo, the young architects of the Sabiá studio are taking on the Copan, the enormous skyscraper designed by Oscar Niemeyer in the form of a wave

The Copan is one of the best-known buildings in the Brazilian city of São Paulo. It was constructed in 1966 to a design by Oscar Niemeyer. Behind its long and sinuous façade this 38-storey skyscraper houses over a thousand homes, in an unusual mix of large apartments, smaller flats for the less well-off, offices and even a church. Here the young architects Beatriz Marques and Nilton Suenaga, founders of the Sabiá Arquitetos practice, have recently amalgamated two of the units to create a larger apartment. “The Copan is a genuine icon,” says Suenaga. “It is right in the centre, and its ground floor – with cafés, restaurants and art galleries – is incredibly lively. From the residential viewpoint it is almost a town: in its units of various sizes it houses a total of around five thousand people.”

 

 

Conscious of the building’s importance from the urban and architectural perspective, the designers have tackled the job with the idea of making the most of its very special characteristics, but without renouncing an adaption of its spaces to contemporary life, and getting rid of anything superfluous. The intervention started out from just that need to lighten things. “The fluidity of space is a theme that crops up constantly in our designs. In this case we have worked chiefly on the living room, with the aim of making the sinuosity of the skyscraper perceptible on the inside as well.”

Bird’s-eye view of the sinuous Copan residential building. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer and constructed in 1966, it is 115 metres tall. (ph. Pedro Kok)Two modes of action have been chosen by the Sabiá studio, coinciding with two different areas of the apartment. To the north, where the façade is clad with undulating brises soleil of reinforced concrete that frame the view of the city from above, is located the living room, which, thanks to the reorganization, is now all of 24 metres long. “In this part of the apartment, which was in good condition, we have restored the original materials: the structural pillars – brought to light following the removal of the partition walls – have been deliberately left without a finish for the sake of authenticity, so that the original position of the partitions remains legible,” explain the architects.

The spacious symmetrical living room with a glass wall is the product of the fusion of those of the two previous flats, which have been united. (ph. Pedro Kok)

Più significativi gli interventi nella zona affacciata a sud, molto degradata: dal punto di vista distributivo, si è approfittato della presenza del volume della scala per separare la cucina, affacciata sul soggiorno-pranzo, da un’area ora destinata alla camera da letto padronale con bagno en-suite. Qui i pavimenti compromessi sono stati sostituiti da un cocciopesto – materiale utilizzato anche da Niemeyer per i camminamenti pubblici – di colori diversi a seconda delle zone.

The custom-built kitchen incorporates the old bedroom of one of the two flats. The original floors have been replaced by ones made of crushed brick and lime plaster. (ph. Pedro Kok)

More significant the interventions in the part facing south, in a very poor state: from the distributive viewpoint, advantage has been taken of the presence of the staircase to separate the kitchen, facing onto the living-dining room, from an area now allotted to the master bedroom with en-suite bathroom. Here the damaged original floors have been replaced by ones of crushed brick and lime plaster – a material utilized by Niemeyer too for the public walkways – in colours that differ from one zone to another. On the veranda, the original cobogó (a hollow brick used to build walls that let light filter through) has been replaced by a similar element made of reinforced concrete that permits a panoramic view while ensuring privacy. Along the brises soleil to the north, sliding opaque panels allow division of the spaces and, when open, amplify the light. Further in, however, the utilization of walls made of slats of Brazilian teak mediates the relationship between front and back, forming a new translucent partition. The result of all these choices is the definition of a mutable space in which the play of light and shade constantly alters, during the daytime, the ambience of the rooms.

The zone of passage between the north and south fronts of the building is furnished with wooden cupboards designed by the architects and made by Marcenaria Taniguchi. (ph. Pedro Kok)Source:Corriere della sera

 

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