SESC 24 de Maio

SESC is an institution that oversees 38 activity centers that bring together various fields of expertise, articulated through a variety of cultural, educational, sports, leisure and health programs.

This institution also develops national and international partnerships through numerous projects related to music, theatre, dance, circus, literature and the visual arts.

SESC’s activities are guided by its educational ethics as well as the pursuit of broad social well being, in which the term culture is understood in its full spectrum. In this sense, the full accessibility to the spaces and contents offered by the institution enhances the democratization of cultural values as a form of individual autonomy and the practice of citizenship.

SESC 24 de Maio opened in August 19th 2017 and, byJanuary 31st 2018, the venue had already received 1.257.455 people.

The Project

We believe that the process of transformation and development of cities such as São Paulo is made by slowly adapting to the changes of customs and way of life of the societies that build them.

The new SESC 24 de Maio – which houses a complex set of recreational and service facilities – occupies the former headquarter of the Mesbla department store in downtown Sao Paulo, and represents an exemplary challenge of intervening in the context of an urban heritage site.

Taking such context into account the proposed design as set both to contribute effectively to the upgrading of such remarkable area of the city, as well as to readapt the building structure to a completely new set of uses and specific programs. In order to do so, the following basic ideas were outlined:

1        To house a large open square at the ground level of the building as a central idea of public placemaking, designing it as a free passage with a gallery character that is directly linked to the exciting surroundings of the neighborhood;

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2        To transform the former underground garage into a Café and a Theater, in direct relation to lively streets that surround it;

3        To create a new vertical circulation system composed of a generous sequence of ramps, outlining a clear and continuous circuit that sets an architectural promenade and playfully connects the wider urban spaces of the city to the various indoors programs of the new SESC building;

4        To structure a variety of open spaces at strategic levels that are designed as covered elevated squares, thus opening the building to its surroundings. Such spaces – such as the Conviviality Square and the Swimming Pool Garden – are not enclosed with façades and act as hanging gardens along the open circulation network of ramps;

5        To adopt eventual associations of two levels, with character of great hall, part with double foot right, and upper and overhead galleries, for some items of the program, in order to value enclosures and avoid the monotony of simple overlapping type floors;

6        To build a generous square on the rooftop, a solarium that includes an open swimming pool;

7        To concentrate all technical and mechanical infrastructure on an annex structure that acts as an isolated service tower. For this purpose, all infrastructure has been all condensed on an extension that has been built on a contiguous property that had been abandoned years before;

8        To incorporate a set of furniture pieces that are integral part to the architectural design. This has resulted on a colorful design series of chairs, tables, sofas, desks, counters and modular stackable furniture elements that complete the building in a joyful and playful manner, strengthening its institutional identity.

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In order to bring about such goals – which are at the core of the design’s challenges and which orient its spatial character – a series of decisions on building techniques and infrastructural supply were adopted, namely:

1           The selective demolition of specific parts of the structure of the original Mesbla building, maintaining its basic structural elements and central hall, originating on the vertical void around which the new design is structured;

2        The construction of a new and autonomous building structure, supported by four main pillars that configure the central void, sustaining both a series of large interleaved halls, as well as the solarium and swimming pool volume that crown the building on the rooftop;

3        The adaptation of the building’s former garage to a Theater by slightly lowering its level while, at the same time, carefully respecting the limits and structural foundations of its neighboring building;

4        The development of an elaborate mechanical emergency system for smoke exhaustion that services all building levels, as required by local fire regulations. Its complexity as allowed for a variety of spatial arrangements – such as double floors and a completely open circulation network – that would normally not be allowed in a building with such specific uses and design constrains.

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