Up-cycling as method of sustainable transformation: revisiting SESC Pompéia

Steffen Lehmann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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The most sustainable building is the one that already exists. Modernity and sustainability are closely intertwined in the challenge of creating better places to live and work. There is an opportunity (and duty) to preserve the existing fabric and reuse buildings which have lost their original function or no longer meet today’s increasingly demanding standards. It is estimated that 80 per cent of buildings in existence today globally will still be there in twenty years’ time, therefore it is the physical improvements and adaptive reuse (‘up-cycling’) of our existing buildings and infrastructure that will contribute in delivering the CO2-emission reductions needed. Upgrading the existing building stock is increasingly used as a method to address inefficiencies and a secure way to reduce emissions: by increasing the longevity of derelict unoccupied buildings through adaptive reuse, they become suitable sites for many different types of use. This paper discuses the adaptive reuse of a former barrel factory in São Paulo to a popular leisure centre (SESC) in Pompéia (1977 to 1986). Until today, the urban and sustainable dimension of Lina Bo Bardi’s work in São Paulo has not been sufficiently discussed or appreciated. Until the SESC Pompéia, the derelict factory was expected to be demolished to restart the development of the site with ‘tabula rasa’. Besides Bo Bardi’s social approach, there is also a strong environmental position that laid the foundation of sustainable urban renewal in Latin America. Bo Bardi's sustainable and socially-conscious design method is directly informed by her appreciation of the local and regional history of place. Her adaptive reuse of existing buildings therefore marks a paradigm shift in thinking regarding existing historical structures in Brazil and the commencement of renovation as an eligible strategy for entire regenerated urban precincts. Bo Bardi’s robust concept was quite simple: “Retain as much of the existing building fabric as possible, working within the original envelope, providing new insertions to improve the circulation” (Ferraz 1993; Instituto LB and PM Bardi 2015).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArquiteturas do Patrimonio Moderno Paulista
EditorsAudrey Migliani Anticoli, Fernanda Critelli, Silvia Raquel Chiarelli, Tais Ossani
Place of PublicationBrazil
PublisherDocomomo International
ISBN (Print)978-85-88157-16-3
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2017
EventV Docomomo SP Seminar - São Paulo, Brazil
Duration: 16 Oct 201717 Oct 2017


ConferenceV Docomomo SP Seminar
CitySão Paulo
Internet address


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