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Plataforma Mansion of many talents featured

When Micasa head honcho Houssein Jarouche heard that this listed mansion was up for grabs, the creative cogs in his brain started spinning into overdrive. Teaming up with curator Duda Porto de Souza, Jarouche and his crack team of designers set about transforming the building, newly christened Plataforma, into a multidisciplinary space with the power to breathe new life into Sao Paulo’s downtown arts scene.

Still rocking a (deliberate) look of demure dilapidation and elegant distress, the labyrinthine space has a screen printing lab on the ground floor and also a publishing house, design studio and record label operating elsewhere on the premises. Exhibitions are a regular feature too—such as Billy Names’ photographic chronicle of Andy Warhol’s former NY HQ, ‘The Silver Era at the Factory’. And with no fixed schedule or program, a deliberate divergence from more traditional galleries, spontaneity is the name of the game. So you can guarantee that this place has always got a surprise or several up its sleeve.

Cartel 011 Off the bandwagon, onto the cart(el)

Don’t try to pigeonhole this place. Part art gallery, part design store, part restaurant, part co-working space, we could go on…but basically it’s exploding with ideas and energy. From product launches to music sessions, there’s always something going on at Cartel 011. Founded in 2009 with the intention of transforming the urban environment, it’s a case of so far, so bloody brilliant.

Espaço Unibanco de Cinema Waiting for Godard

This cinephile heaven projects a carefully chosen selection of international indie and art films in its five screening rooms. Espaço Unibanco de Cinema is divided into two spaces, one on either side of Rua Augusta. Both feature friendly cafés to help ease any pre-movie impatience; the side with screens 1, 2 and 3 boasts a fine film book shop as well.

As well as its busy daily schedule, Espaço Unibanco de Cinema hosts premiers and events like the Mostra Internacional de Cinema de São Paulo (the city’s international film festival). All films are, of course, shown in the original language with Portuguese subtitles.

Thursday screenings are offered at a discount but it is on the last Friday of every month that the Espaço Unibanco de Cinema really kicks back: during the Odisséia de Cinema (“Cinema Odyssey”), punters can watch a triple bill (including one “suprise” film) for the price of a single feature. It’s quality cinema till dawn, accompanied by a bucket of popcorn, a can of Guaraná pop and heck, why not, a glass of whisky. Breakfast is served at the end of this marathon.

Praça da Sé Eye of the storm

Praça da Sé (Cathedral Square) acts as a sort of turntable for Paulistanos—picking them up at one corner and spitting them out at another. Because it sits not only right at the center of town but also between the city’s main arteries, the Praça is São Paulo’s favorite meeting place.

All this human traffic is offset by the neo-Gothic grandeur of São Paulo Cathedral, with its stone plaza and palm tree-lined alley. A newer part of the square stretches out next to it like the flapper daughter of a Victorian lady: it boasts an exotic, multi-layered layout complete with waterfalls, jungle flora and abstract sculptures in brash colors. A lot of outstanding graffiti also surrounds the square; at night, its concrete benches double as beds for the homeless.

The Praça da Sé also stands at the edge of Liberdade, the city’s fascinating Japanese neighborhood.

Parque do Ibirapuera Central park

A quiet stroll through Parque do Ibirapuera (Ibirapuera Park) means encountering one modernist masterpiece after another—the Auditório Ibirapuera and the Bienal Building (both by Oscar Niemeyer), the Museo de Arte Moderna (Lina Bo Bardi). A visit to the Museum Of African Culture, then a fresh Aqua De Coco from one of the streetside stalls and the transformation is complete: here sits a true oasis in the concrete desert.

Green meadow beckon to footballers of every stripe; ancient trees whisper in the wind; the lakeside offers many lovely spots to sit and read (perhaps a book from the park’s public library), share a picnic or simply watch the birds fly off into the high blue sky.

And if all that isn’t enough, stop by in September. The blooming Jacaranda alley will turn even the sternest of viewers into a starry-eyed romantic.

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