Cultural Synopsis - Edifício Altino Arantes


Edifício Altino Arantes, an Art Déco building on Rua João Brícola, 24, city centre, formerly Prédio do  Banespa has now become Farol Santander and is open to the public. It was built in 1947, first designed by the architect Plinio Botelho do Amaral, but later modeled on the Empire State Building by the Camargo & Mesquita construction company. It is 35 stories high. Visiting days are Tue-Sun, 9h to 19h. Entrance fee is  R$17.50 to visit 3 floors containing a few bank relics of the past.  The Caixa Cultural Sé Memoir is much more complete and exciting on the 21st floor you can watch kiddy skating and then you can go to  the 26th floor for the view (rather poor when compared to the one from the last floor now closed to the public)  and a not very attractive restaurant for good coffee but very slapdash lunch. On three other floors there are temporary exhibitions, for which you pay extra if you intend to visit them. (I would not recommend them). The whole space available and open to the public is very narrow, even more so when compared to the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil. The ticket system is atrocious as tickets are checked on each floor on the way in and on the way out. I can imagine the accumulation of visitors on a busy day and the despair of staff checking information and sorting people out. I went on a calm day, at lunch time and they succeded in making mistakes which delayed the whole process, of course. Why do I then write about it? There is a differential: A loft on the 25th floor, 400m² with kitchen and bath which one can rent for an overnight stay (sleeps 3 people)  for R$4001,00 per night! Or to hold a party. I would call the visit ‘interesting’ and maybe you wish to see it, because TV Globo is advertising it. If you go there eventually, have lunch a round the corner at Leiteria Pereira,  Rua São Bento, 514, open Mon – Wed ,  10h to 22h (23h on Thur/Fri). Delicious choices, large portions and good value for money, besides a variety of good beers. For dessert, go a few steps further to Casa Mathilde, Pça Antonio Prado, 76 ( for Portuguese sweets and fantastic bread. Take home some of the ‘Travesseiros de Cintra’, (from Casa Mathilde, of course, not from the Loft).

As I’ve described the Edifício Santander, I may just mention some other buildings in São Paulo. Japan House on Av. Paulista, 52, (metro Brigadeiro) built by Kengo Kuma. (opens Tues-Sat, 10h-22h; Sun/Holidays, 10h-18h). T. 30908900 It is one of three in the world. The front consists of a wood (hinoki-considered sacred in Japan) structure, just fitted together, a technique which survived for centuries. The walls and sliding doors are covered with paper-washi-much appreciated in Japan. The building holds exhibitions, shows and workshops in Japanese Art and Gastronomy.

João Artacho Jurado (1907-1983) was a self-educateded architect and designed many buildings between São Paulo and Santos. He was the first to create curves, space and colours, mainly, yellow, pink, light green and blue on façades. He and his brother owned the ‘Monções onstructions’ building company which gave its name to the district in São Paulo: Cidade Monções .He designed functional buildings with party rooms, reading and music rooms, playground, restaurants, bars, winter gardens, terraces with views, shops and an underground garage

Edifício Louvre, Av. São Luis 192; Edifício Planalto, Rua Maria Paula, 279 and Edifício Viadutos on Pça General Craveiro Lopes, 19-Bela Vista are some of his buildings still to be seen. More about his ‘forbidden architecture’: .

In May, the very special St. Petersburg Dance Theatre hits São Paulo with two performances in Tom Brasil  not to be missed: Dancing in the Rain (18th) and Swan Lake (19th). Tickets will be available soon.

Christina Thornton