São Paulo is ethnically diverse and young: 66% of its population is under 20. The city has remained multicultural since the nineteenth century, when the region’s coffee plantations attracted workers from Spain, Portugal and Japan. Many residents are of mixed ethnic origins, descendants of migrants from many parts of the world. It is said that São Paulo is the largest Japanese city outside Japan, the largest Portuguese city outside Portugal, the largest Spanish city outside Spain, and the largest Lebanese city outside Lebanon. More recent migrants from Brazil’s poorest north-east regions form a large proportion of the city’s low-paid service workers.

São Paulo is prosperous compared to the rest of Brazil, but poverty, unemployment and crime remain major challenges. In contrast, the city’s wealthy population is reflected by its more than 1,000 private helicopters, a rate of ownership similar to New York City and Tokyo.

The population of the central district has declined steadily since the 1970s. Despite ambitious revitalisation plans, wealthy residents and businesses still move out. The population is growing most in peripheral areas with the poorest infrastructure.

Project: 100 new schools for São Paulo

In 2000, the school attendance rate of 11–14 year-olds in peripheral urban neighbourhoods of São Paulo State was roughly 20%. A lack of school facilities compounded the problem. 

The initiative to erect 100 new schools is a direct response to this challenge. The same construction guidelines apply to every site: a high-quality design, simple pre-fabricated structures and durable materials. Projects have low costs and short turn-around times. Beyond its educational role, the scheme has also provided after-hours, multi-purpose spaces for the local communities. Nearly 30 projects have been completed to date.

Architects for the three selected projects: MMBB Arquitectos (Conjunto Habitacional Campinas F1 School); Estudio 6 Arquitectos (Jardim Umurama/MOACYR de Castro Ferraz Achool); SPBR Arquitectos (Jardim Ataliba Leonel/Pedro de Moraes Victor School:
Client: Foundation for the Development of Education (FDE), State of São Paulo Department of Education
Completion: 2003–ongoing