Opinion – É Logo Ali: Ibirapuera, the park that is the face of paulistanos

Opinion – É Logo Ali: Ibirapuera, the park that is the face of paulistanos

Since I started to publish this blog, I thought about talking about Ibirapuera Park, the most visited park in the city of São Paulo and, by the way, in all of Latin America, having registered no less than 8,721,822 visitors between January and July of this year . And why haven’t we talked about this monument to leisure in São Paulo before? Thinking here, probably because, being so close, so familiar to us paulistanos, it’s almost like talking about the backyard of our house, something like exposing the obvious.

But obviously, Ibirapuera has nothing. Oh, and before anyone falls into the temptation of invoking intimacies and calling it “Ibira”, let’s make it clear that this is more or less like someone who wants to look like a paulistano and calls São Paulo “Sampa”. Forget it, colleagues, only outsiders fall into this trap. That being said, let’s move on.

With a total green area of ​​1,584,000 square meters, Ibirapuera was inaugurated on August 21, 1954, as part of the celebrations of the 4th Centenary of São Paulo, with a project by the architects Oscar Niemeyer, Ulhôa Cavalcanti, Zenon Lotufo, Eduardo Kneese de Mello, Ícaro de Castro Mello, and landscaping by Augusto Teixeira Mendes, created by Roberto Burle Marx. This group of notables accepted the challenge of transforming a wetland area that, at the time of colonization, was home to an indigenous village responsible for the name Ypy-ra-ouêra, pau rotre in Tupi-Guarani, into a leisure area.

The idea of ​​turning the swamp into a park dates back to the 1920s, when the then mayor of São Paulo, José Pires do Rio, thought it was worth doing something similar to the Bois de Boulogne in Paris (France), the Hyde Park in London (England) or Central Park in New York (USA). In 1927, Manuel Lopes de Oliveira, known as “Manequinho Lopes” (which gives the name to the seedling nursery that supplies the city to this day), planted hundreds of Australian eucalyptus trees on the site to drain the land and eliminate excess moisture, giving life to the embryo of what would become one of the most important symbols of São Paulo — and with nothing to do with the parks that inspired Pires do Rio. With its unique layout and bringing together important museums, auditoriums and monuments in the city, Ibirapuera is a park with its own personality and, at the same time, as incorporated into the city’s routine as any of the above mentioned abroad.

Listed by Conpresp (Municipal Council for the Preservation of Historical, Cultural and Environmental Heritage of the City of São Paulo) and by Condephaat (Council for the Defense of Historical, Archaeological, Artistic and Tourist Heritage of the State of São Paulo), Ibirapuera is that space where walkers, runners, cyclists, skaters and practitioners of more and more different sports exercise daily.

The coexistence of so many tribes, of course, is not always the most peaceful, especially on holidays and weekends, when the number of users is higher. Last July, for example, the park registered a record number of visitors, no less than two million people of all ages who rushed to enjoy the holidays – and the end of restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. But, come on, with a little patience and good will, everyone can enjoy it.

It is worth remembering that, for those who like to walk on a trail, without leaving the marked lanes, the circuit that runs around the entire contour of Ibirapuera is not the biggest, something close to only 3 kilometers. But the big difference, there, is precisely being able to leave the obvious and explore the many variants and avenues that connect the museums, sculptures and monuments, going around the lake (where on sunny days it is even worth taking a towel and a good sunscreen for a bucolic picnic), and go through the cultural circuit that presents itself to the visitor.

pioneer concession

In recent years, a whole controversy involved the concession to the private sector of Ibirapuera, which ended up being granted in October 2020. The company that took what was considered the most attractive of the equipment offered to the concession was Urbia Parques, which manages, in addition to of this, five more urban parks in São Paulo: Tenente Brigadeiro Faria Lima, Jacintho Alberto, Jardim Felicidade, Eucaliptos and Lajeado. Since April of this year, it has also taken care of the Horto Florestal and Floresta Cantareira state parks.

“It was a great challenge to take over the management of the first urban park granted in the world”, says Samuel Lloyd, 40, director of Urbia. The challenge was even greater since the concession began in the midst of the pandemic, with all the restrictions imposed on activities that could generate income, such as the opening of restaurants and paid services, while investing in the daily maintenance of equipment and the area. “It was a rocky start, but we knew we were also investing in the user’s mental health, which was very important in the pandemic,” he adds.

With all the difficulties of an atypical beginning, in less than two years, Lloyd says that Urbia has already invested R$ 78.4 million of the R$ 180 million foreseen in the concession contract. “And we believe that we will reach this value in, at most, another 4 to 5 years”. Most of this investment, he explains, was for the recovery of the extensive green area, the roads and the park’s infrastructure, such as drainage, renovation of restrooms and tracks.

But one project in particular has been lovingly handled by Urbia for the next few years and bears the friendly name of Eco 360. Since taking over management, Lloyd says that more than 35 tons of waste have already been recycled, which accounts for a reduction of carbon on the order of 24,425 kilograms. The project as a whole was born from the perception that one of the largest volumes of garbage generated within the park daily is represented by the green coconut shells sold by more than 160 street vendors who have been working in the place for years and are an inseparable part of the park’s landscape.

“By 2025, we have a zero landfill target, that is, we will recycle or compost as much as possible”, says the director. In the case of coconut husk, the project is to transform it into biodegradable cups that, discarded, will be sent for composting”, says Lloyd.

As it is a park, Ibirapuera has opening hours, which are from 5 am to 11 pm. Oh, and admission, contrary to rumors at the time of the concession bidding, is completely free.

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