Sao Paulo at World Expo 2010

The stand reveals the cosmopolitanism and diversity of the largest city in South America

When speaking of Sao Paulo, everything becomes larger. The largest metropolis of South America has more than 11 million inhabitants and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) close to R$144 billion, which represents around 15% of the national GDP (SMF/2005). With 1.530 square kilometers in extension, the heart of the Brazilian economy receives an average of 10 million visitors per year and concentrates the largest Japanese community outside Japan, the largest Italian community outside Italy and the largest number of Lebanese outside Lebanon. A global city, Sao Paulo is avant-garde in Latin America and gains increasing international significance, not only in the economic, commercial and technological fields, but also in political and strategic too. These cultural diversity and cosmopolitanism aspects of Sao Paulo are to be presented in the largest and most expected World Expo, which will happen from May 1st until October 31st of 2010, in Shanghai, China.

The Sao Paulo’s estande at Expo Shanghai 2010 will present this multi-faceted culture, as well as the plurality and transformation of this metropolis since the implementation of the Clean City Act, which is responsible for choosing Sao Paulo to rank fourth among the 55 cities selected to participate in this event. Located at the Urban Best Practices Area (UBPA), the stand will also host debates, business roundtables, workshops and business events, along with exhibitions of films and documentaries. The goal is to present the city, its dimension and importance to the national and international scenario. 

The project (signed by designers Daniela Thomas and Felipe Tassara – also responsible for the Football Museum) represents, through the contour lines of the emblematic building Copan, the transformation of the metropolis, before and after the Clean City Act. ‘The Copan has served as inspiration to the project. It is a remarkable symbol of the city. Besides, it passes on the idea of movement and Sao Paulo is a city of constant transformation’, says the artist. For Tassara, this is a work of very peculiar characteristics. ‘Sao Paulo is huge and carries all the problems of any city with that size. However it never stops thinking about its own future and how to improve it. And that is what we are trying to express in this stand’, he says.


Divided in five areas, the Sao Paulo stand will be a special experience for the visitor, explains Thomas. ‘As there is a tendency to the excessive use of led lights, videos and projection, we tried to provide the visitors with something in which they could participate and move; it means that we want the visitor to use his/her own body to understand how the Clean City Act promoted the transformation of Sao Paulo’s outlook’. The visitor will go through a sensory experience in which he/she will realize the change in Sao Paulo’s overview. The idea is to see the impact of the urban alterations triggered by the enforcement of the new legislation.

Right at the entrance, in an area called Skyline, it will be possible to visualize the huge number of buildings of the largest cities in South America. When entering, the first impression will be the dimension of the megalopolis, with its countless buildings as well as its enormous proportions. ‘It is possible to understand how Sao Paulo is a very geometrical city’, says Thomas.

In the following section, at the ‘Street Signs’ room, thousands of images and loud noises will provide the audience with the sensation of how the city used to be before the Act. The intention is to show how street signs, billboards, light signs, posters and logos gradually modified the city’s visual aspect. The purpose is to reproduce the feeling of living in a visual and noise pollution environment. Sliding signs around the room will show the same building façade with and without visual pollution and demonstrate the difference at an aesthetic and sensorial point of view. 

The visit continues at the ‘Before and After’ room, where the audience will immediately experience the city’s amplitude by the room’s height. According to Thomas, the photos, images, texts and prints shown in this room will synthesize the metropolis before and after the new legislation. The lenticular printing technique will be used to visualize alternated sections of multiple images, allowing a 3-D or movement sensation. In order to see the modified image, the visitor will have to move back and forth. Also in this room, three ‘magic flashlights’ booths will allow the visitor to see locations in Sao Paulo and its immediate differences with and without visual pollution.

The speed of Sao Paulo’s transformation will be better understood at the ‘Sao Paulo No Logo’ photo exhibition, by Tony de Marco. His lenses captured spaces and billboard frames after the implementation of the Clean City Act. The result represents the beginning of a new cycle with significant changes at the great Brazilian metropolis’ life. ‘I had the opportunity to film the city right after the implementation of the Act. It was a redefinition shock for Sao Paulo’s urban landscape’, says Thomas, adding that registering the city being slowly rediscovered has been an interesting experience. The purpose is to visualize the speed in which the megalopolis has been transformed.

But Sao Paulo is not only about the Clean City Act. The project’s goal is to show the city’s cosmopolitan, multicultural and multiracial aspects. ‘The megalopolis is constantly rethinking itself. The city grows, but is never abandoned. There are always people thinking on how to improve their lives in it’, emphasizes Thomas. This multiplicity will be presented at the ‘Welcome to Sao Paulo’ section. In this area, the visitor will see the everybody’s Sao Paulo. The images will show diversity, architecture, arts, fauna, flora and multicultural aspects so that the world will get to know the largest city in Brazil. Besides, various screens will play parts of ‘Welcome to Sao Paulo’ documentary, made by several directors including Leon Cakoff, Renata Almeida and Daniela Thomas. Also in this site, a lens will simulate a live tour from Shanghai to Sao Paulo. The intention is to make the visitor realize Sao Paulo’s geographic location in the world, the distance between the two cities and the sensation of two different locations working simultaneously.

Daniela Thomas, who has dozens of awarded works, says that projecting Sao Paulo’s stand at the first global exposition to give space for the cities is a unique opportunity. ‘Some of the world’s most interesting and radical architects and set designers will be there, working at installations, stands and getting to know the projects. It is an honor to participate in Sao Paulo’s project at Expo Shanghai’, says Thomas. According do Felipe Tassara, this work has singular characteristics. ‘This is undoubtedly a huge challenge. Showing to the world the mega city of Sao Paulo, which is also my city, is a huge challenge’, defines Tassara. 

With approximately 400 square meters, the stand will also count with a mezzanine, where screens organized side by side will display videos which will allow the visitor to learn more about Sao Paulo. There will also be a room dedicated for meetings, audiences and presentations. Furthermore, Sao Paulo will promote actions and activities in specific areas at Expo Shanghai designated by the event’s organizers.