São Paulo’s new urban plan: a more compact city, higher buildings, next to the public transportation system

Sao Paulo Skyline
Sao Paulo from the top.
A new urban legislation for Sao Paulo, passed hastily during the World Cup will define how the city – the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere, and the world’s ninth largest city by population – may develop in the coming years. It defines items such as which areas of the city may earn what types of buildings, including the maximum heights of the buildings, how many parking spaces per each apartment, which are the green areas and what is the growth limit of the city.

The Master Plan in theory aims to create a more compact São Paulo, where people live closer to their jobs and closer to public transportation. A city that has more green areas and a greater amount of affordable housing designed for those who cannot pay the increasingly abusive rents charged in the city.

Sao Paulo apartments and buildings. The Master Plan was the subject of a rather tumultuous voting session under pressure from the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem-Teto, MTST (Homeless Workers Movement).

A more compact city

With almost 1,600 square kilometers wide (seven times the size of Buenos Aires) and about 11 million people, Sao Paulo is spreading increasingly to its suburbs, surrounded also by native forest and water sources. The Master Plan aims to encourage urban growth on already consolidated public transportation areas or networks of public transportation that will be opened, preventing São Paulo to continue developing towards the preservation areas.
This would be done by constructing higger buildings.

Who builds more, pays more

On the new master plan, the basic coefficient of utilization of the city determines that if a person has a land size of 100 square meters, that person can only build a property with an area of maximum 100 square meters. If they want to build higher than that, for example in the case of buildings, they will have to pay a fee to the City. The income from this fee, probably coming from large urban construction projects from developers would be used to finance the construction of housing for the poor.

More affordable housing

The development plan also increased the number of areas where only low-income housing could be built. Special Social Interest Zones are intended for families earning up to three minimum wages.

A greener city

The urban plan would also create more green areas, and about 164 parks in various parts of the city which will add up to 82 square kilometers. The owners of land within these Specials Environmental Protection Zones would be paid by the City for preserving these green areas, many remnants of the Atlantic Forest.

Cars no longer a priority

In line with the expansion of exclusive bus lanes, the plan calls that 30% of the Urban Fund must be allocated for investments in mobility, including public transportation, bike lanes and pedestrian locomotion.

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Max Francisco
Max Francisco has been involved with the Internet in Brazil and has been doing digital projects in the country for the last 15 years.