Urban Redevelopment of Squares

São Luis – Maranhão

Acupuncture of the Historic Center

In 1997, the historic center of São Luís was declared a cultural heritage site by UNESCO. Through the Special Projects Secretariat – SEMPE, the Revitalization Program of the Historic Center of the capital of the state of Maranhão was launched, financed from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The requalification of squares and squares was contemplated by the project, seeking to readjust these public spaces to better integrate social life and rescue its architectural and cultural sense.

In this context, basic, executive projects and socio-environmental studies were prepared for Saudade and Misericórdia Squares to organize and structure these urban spaces with universal accessibility and improvements in urbanization, landscaping, lighting, furniture, installations, drainage, paving, signage and other elements, providing the creation of conditions for its appropriation by the surrounding residents and also by visitors and tourists.

The squares are in the central area of the city, not far from each other, connected by Rua do Norte. Despite being close from each other, they have quite different characteristics.

Misericórdia Square, one of the oldest in the city, has its original design preserved and listed at the state level. Saudade Square, famous for its flower trade, hosts popular festivals and is served by several kiosks.

The projects start from a common concept that includes relevant aspects in relation to the problems raised in the diagnosis phase, seeking the adoption of solutions, techniques and materials that are resistant, responsible and environmentally and financially viable; integration of the project with the premises of cultural and landscape enhancement, environmental education and creation of spaces for socializing and leisure; spatial and landscape ordering; new constructions that relate to the surroundings; and versatility of the proposal, allowing solutions to be replicated in other squares in São Luís, composing a network of qualified public open spaces for residents and visitors.

The project for Praça da Saudade seeks, through the integration between the preservation of immaterial space and its landmarks, a new urban design that dialogues with the context in which it is inserted. It values the main actors of the space: the surrounding community (children, the elderly, and adults); traders (fixed and mobile); visitors (parties, cemetery, consumers of commerce and tourists) and relates them in this space characterized by exchanges and flows of passage. The raised flower beds refer to the dunes of the Lençóis Maranhenses and compose a design strategy that streamlines the landscape, reorganizes commerce, and encompasses other uses.

1) Spatial fragmentation; 2) Reallocation of vacancies; 3) Accessible places; 4) Enhancement of the historical axis; 5) Trade in flowers; 6) Area for foodbikes; 7) Bleachers and seating; 8) Stage rental area; 9) Community Garden; 10) New playground; 11) New kiosks; 12) Landscaping with native species.

Saudade Square, the preexisting condition of fragmentation of space was solved with the displacement of the street crossing, considering the square as a unique territory by prioritizing the pedestrian scale and the integration of uses, valuing its historical aspects. To cover the kiosks, we proposed a structural system in glued laminated wood, produced in an industrial way, outlining covered living spaces that support events and presentations.

1) Pre-existing situation; 2) Improvements in the surroundings and new pedestrian crossings; 3) Reallocation of vacancies; 4) Accessible places; 5) Maintenance of the original design; 6) Restoration of the monument; 7) Opening up new paths; 8) Inclusion of new furniture; 9) New playground; 10) New kiosks; 11) Maintenance of existing trees.

The project Misericórdia Square seeks to restore the figurative image of space, valuing it as an active focal and nodal point until today, analyzing the functional elements of the passage of time and seeking to understand how it contributes to valuing or fragmenting the patrimonial good. Possible additions, losses and new insertions were critically analyzed, seeking to reintegrate the square to the consolidated surroundings in the current context.

Tricycles and kiosks support the pre-existing trade. The tricycles, made of high-strength materials and shaded by umbrellas, solve the comfort of street commerce. Besides the development of the new equipment, the project includes a qualification program for the market’s merchants and service providers.

In popular workshops, held parallel to those for joint data collection with teams of municipal secretariats, the needs programs were consolidated, especially with regard to the intended uses and the needs of local traders. The workshops were carried out and guided by the multidisciplinary project team.