To Sao Paulo for the first time – and given the timing, an opportunity to compare and contrast self-imposed economic crises. The very strong European heritage in Sao Paulo – e.g. Italian and German migration (plus incidentally a significant Japanese community) – gave rise to series of discussions regarding the wisdom of Brexit from the perspective of a country, Brazil, which regards itself as a product of migration.
We were presenting Playable City at a panel and workshop as part of the Brazilian Independent Games Festival’s social impact strand.
The core concept of the project seems to chime well with a Brazilian interest in architecture and urban space, a more radical collectivist idea of public intervention, and a public policy desire to drive creative economy impacts in the city.
During the (massively oversubscribed) workshop some themes which emerged were familiar from other cities, for example perception of safety or people flows, where others were very much a product of a sprawling mega-city: identity and belonging in a diverse city, scale as a challenge in connecting the citizens.
What was interesting was how the participants – architects, artists, designers, city government, development agencies – immediately understood the concept and generated positive and practical responses.
Partly this is an understanding built on an existing and very active public art scene – from graffiti to LED covered multi-story buildings. A couple of great examples:
Luana Geiger’s Piscina no Minhocao – a temporary swimming pool on a flyover
Guto Requena’s Light Creature – a responsive building which interestingly was hacked to turn it from red to blue via the public app as a political statement during a protest.
A more simple intervention was at the BIG venue, the Centro Cultural Sao Paulo, where the glass was semi-mirrored and groups of kids practiced dance routines day and night throughout the public spaces in a totally unstructured but energising way.
And the final positive thought is a memory of the Santo Forte nightclub, where a DJ in a peacock kaftan played samba throughout the night to a beatifically smiling crowd, swaying rhythmically – one of the happiest rooms I think I’ve ever been in (sounds like this).