After passing inspections for health hazards, stability, and security, the abandoned mansion on Celso Garcia Ave., located in the Brás neighborhood in the center-east area of São Paulo, Brazil, will be restored and upgraded to meet accessibility standards, and will be transformed into a cultural center. The intervention will be financed with funds of R$ 2 million from the Ministry of Culture. The center will offer cultural and community activities.
Known by the locals as the Cultural Mansion, or the former Belenzinho Police Station, the center is an example of the city’s 20th century architecture. The building calls attention to its Iconic columns, ornaments, and a coat of arms on its front door. Abandoned since the mid-1970’s, the building was raided at the end of the 1980’s, and remained vacant until around 2000.
The property is part of the Special Zoning for Cultural Preservation (ZEPEC), created by the city’s strategic master plan in 2002 to protect São Paulo’s cultural heritage. The expropriation of this area, which used to be a slum that housed 58 families, began twenty-six years ago. A housing project was developed on six lots surrounding the mansion, in a pioneering action to harmonize the surrounding area with the historic district's architecture.
The transformation of the mansion into a cultural center has been anticipated since 1991. The work was announced on Saturday October 17, 2015 by the São Paulo City Hall. The intention is that the construction work will last no longer than about one year. “It’s a very important project for the city center. We owe this investment, which will generate a lot of employment and opportunity to the Brás region. Moreover the area is in great need of a cultural center,” stated the mayor, Fernando Haddad.
In addition to the restoration, the space will have two multi-purpose rooms, a computer lab, a sewing studio, a playroom, an auditorium, and a music practice room. The intervention is part of Goal 27 of the Program Goals 2013-2016, which calls for the construction, re-qualification or renovation of sixteen cultural centers. Teams from the Department of Heritage have prepared a recuperation and occupation plan and are in communication with its citizens.
What use has your city made out of its old buildings? Does your city have special zoning for historic buildings? Share your thoughts and city’s stories in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.