[By Juliana Russo in São Paulo, Brasil]
This Sunday I went to the first village workers of São Paulo, on a tip from my dear friend and also a member of the Urban Sketchers, Eduardo Bajzek.
I went by subway and was picturing in my fertile mind how would this place be like, with its old houses, flower gardens, cobbled streets ...
The place is called Villa Maria Zelia and it was built in 1912, if I remember correctly. A short time compared to the old buildings of our European colleagues, but to São Paulo this village should have a historical value, because shortly before it, the city was a small village.
Arriving there the scene was not as beautiful as I had imagined. The houses of the workers had almost all been refurbished and uncharacterized and in the worst way.The old colonial wood windows had mostly been replaced by tiny aluminum windows. The facades were covered with horrible porcelain or didn't keep anything from the original front, increased by incorporating the small garden that once stood in front of each house.
The old restaurant and schools for boys and girls were almost in ruins, without roofs, with trees growing inside the buildings.
The church is the only building that remains standing and in use that was not decharacterized.
I made some drawings, I talked to older residents, with some children who were dropping little bombs by noisy surroundings. One resident told me that the institution responsible for keeping the historical assets of São Paulo, Condephaat, showed up one day saying that the villagers should restore their homes and leave them as they were originally. But why doing this now, after so many decades of neglect and omission? And that responsibility of preserving the architectural identity of the site is ONLY for owners?
I came home with that feeling of nostalgia and that we really are not a country that wants to preserve our history. It seems we want to forget we've ever had a past. Here in Sao Paulo is so, we drop the old and beautiful houses to build ugly neoclassical buildings full of security guards, grilles and no history.