We were just gearing up to propose the permanent LED installation on the Centro-facing lateral facade of 14 Bis, the tallest of the three buildings that make up Conjunto Santos Dumont on Rua Paim when COVID struck. Picking up from the post-planning cycle, Lanchonete.org had the local will to proceed with a public space project in the back corner of the compound. For a short period we shared an open call with past participants and residents of Lanchonete.org to help us finetune an incremental proposal to Conjunto Santos Dumont. During the long-term charrette process undertaken by Lanchonete.org, we learned that the back corner patio of the Caravelle Building is used by residents of all three buildings for leisure, even if at night the end of the internal roadway that abuts the Caravelle patio is still a drug traffic point. There is a gate that roughly demarcates the family space from the drug sales point or ‘boca’. Former participant, Edgar Calel suggested a mural for one-half of the L-shaped patio wall. He invited another artist, Fernando Pereira dos Santos to participate given that they’d been working together on a film for the five years that Calel has been visiting Brazil from Guatemala. For a few years now, Lanchonete.org has worked with the technical assistance collective, Margem to help shape the charrette and ‘hold’ the community’s feedback. One particular strand dating from a visit by the KTH Royal Institute of Technology of Stockholm is the evolving discussion on a community garden. Margem helped out with Calel’s mural as well. This gave its members time and access to revisit the garden discussion with Caravelle building leadership, maintenance staff and residents. Residents were invited to help paint the mural across four weekends.
At some point Thiago Correia Gonçalves proposed the LED installation depicting two of Santos Dumont’s airplanes–14 Bis and Demoizelle–and using the process of Calel’s mural we learned that the original naming of the buildings as airplanes isn’t widely considered by residents. As we came to learn with the side of the wall painted by Edgar Calel et al, we would receive input on the design, aesthetic, color and font from the public. This meant that we could perhaps use a mural process for the second section of L-shaped wall to explore the history of the airplanes. The only problem was that Thiago is in NYC. Another member of Lanchonete.org, Abdoulaye Guibila suggested a Congolese artist, Lavi Kasongo who he’d met when he first arrived in São Paulo from Burkina Faso. Thiago and Lavi met online and a joint-design for the second wall was produced, something Lavi painted (alone, due to COVID) between December 2020 and January 2021. The completion of the mural was cross-subsidized by Tarcisio’s bar (lanchonete in 14 Bis) and sorta like a Xmas gift to the Conjunto from Lanchonete.org. COVID has been particularly hard on CSD. Many of the northeasterners living there work in restaurant and service jobs, many of which closed due to the pandemic. This affected Tarcisio’s bar as well. It is not clear yet how many residents moved back to the Northeast under pandemia conditions.
The intervention by Lavi and Thiago sets up the next phase, which is a technology-focused project with local youth. AR imagery of the airplanes (with additional historical information on the modernist period in which the buildings were constructed) will be created and accessible via smart phones and tablets. Working with local youth, we’ll solicit input on the LED installation design from their parents, whilst maintaining the discussion on a garden at Paim refreshed by Calel’s previous intervention. At the same time the team coming together to implement the LED installation grew to include lighting architect, Orlando Marques. Orlando suggested that we consider the Paulista-facing lateral facade of 14 Bis for a variety of reasons. This opened up the Centro-facing facade for another long-standing idea, which is the design of a Conjunto logo. See the latest designs under Leaving Open.