1. What makes you happy in this city?

Local

São Paulo is not exactly a beautiful city, but it’s still a very interesting one. It’s the biggest city in South America and has received immigrants from all over the world. It is known for having the best pizza outside of Italy and the best sushi outside of Japan, good cafes, shops, museums and art galleries¬–a very vibrant cultural life. But within this lively city you can still find special peaceful and silent places, invisible cities existing inside the greater whole. It might be a neighborhood, an unexplored area of a park, or even a street. I am always very happy to find one.

Visitor

São Paulo grows wildly every year. New office buildings gobble up the scenery.You can, however, still find places and people frozen in time, places hidden down small streets in immigrant neighborhoods. I am happy when I randomly find these traces of the past: a barbershop from 1950 along with its kind, elderly owner who has been fully dedicated to it and his clientele and since its opening. Like an archaeologist finding remains from another time, I search for the anachronistic, stories that have survived and can turn a mundane walk into an adventure.

2. WHAT INSPIRES YOU IN THIS CITY?

Local

São Paulo is like a good, old friend: she knows exactly the right times to talk and to be silent. She respects my need to be alone, and she does it with a good hug. When I need this time I can easily find it in a nice café, a good bookshop, an independent movie theatre, or while on a walk through the streets. It’s good to be by oneself in Sao Paulo. It’s very inspiring to be among all these people–all this noise–but also feel a sense of calm in my inner world.

Visitor

The green in the gray. São Paulo sometimes seems like a huge, gray city, but in its heart you can find space to breathe, amazing plants, big trees, and gardens around unexpected corners. I feel comfortable. It inspires me a lot. It makes me smile and reminds me of my hometown.

3. WHAT WORKS FOR YOU VERY WELL IN THE CITY?

Local

It is not the built city, but the human one that works well. It’s because of the paulistanos, the people who live here: even though there’s a lack of public space, they always find a way to be with each other.

Visitor

With over 11 million inhabitants, it is the sixth largest city in the world. It has many faces and many stories, either anonymous or prominent in this multifaceted place. Each piece is a whole unto itself, and the collection of these parts makes it into a city rich in diversity and life. São Paulo is a living thing!

4. WHAT WOULD YOU DO BETTER?

Local

As mentioned before, there’s an impressive lack of public space here, but at the same time there is much empty space that is wasted,. The banks of River Pinheiros and River Tiete, for example, could be beautiful, linear parks, but the city ignores its rivers, instead building highways alongside them. I would love to see these places well utilized. We need parks, squares and proper places to meet one other, to read books, to sunbathe, and to just be in the city.

Visitor

Despite the vestiges of the past, São Paulo suffers from rampant development, the expansion of buildings and infrastructure. Dealing with historic buildings without tearing them down–without deleting them–and making them useful again is the great challenge that the city will have to face. The city that does not understand and preserve its history shall not be able to weave its future.

5. HOW WOULD YOU DO IT BETTER?

Local

I believe the best way to preserve our past is to keep it alive: old buildings need to be adapted to the needs and uses of a constantly changing city. It pleases me a lot, this dialog between old and new – contemporary structures emerging from old ones. This has to be done with great respect and harmony. It would be a way of keeping those buildings integrated in urban life rather than as dead relics in a museum of antiquities.

Visitor

Transforming the uninhabited places, bringing life to them…I would start by planting a garden in one space that would spread throughout it. It could then be inhabited and appreciated, bringing freshness to the city and a moment of pause, beauty and relief.