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Copan is an example in São Paulo city of Oscar Niemeyer´s architecture, who is celebrating this year his 100th birthday. Indeed, the most important Brazilian architect is responsible for the external architecture and volumes of this building.

Copan is an example in São Paulo city of Oscar Niemeyer´s architecture, who is celebrating this year his 100th birthday. Indeed, the most important Brazilian architect is responsible for the external architecture and volumes of this building.

He projected it in 1951 after a request of the Companhia Panamericana de Hotéis e Turismo, an enterprise which intended to build a complex with a classy hotel, residential apartments, movies, theaters and shops, to celebrate the 400 years of our city, but the original idea – except for the external shape and structure – never took off, for administrative and economical reasons of the owners. The internal project was totally remodeled – what made Niemeyer lose interest in the project, which was finalized by his assistant Carlos Lemos – and in 1967 it was finally ready as the biggest residential complex of South America.

Today, it has not only an architectural importance which symbolizes the modernity of São Paulo, but also a mythical meaning, once it guards many stories in the imagination of the “paulistanos” (who were born in SP city). During the 80´s, the old centre of this metropolis has reached its peak of degradation, and Copan was believed to be the place where cheap sex and all kinds of human beings – specially the most out-sided – could be found. It is said that in its long brise-soleils the prostitutes would sunbath naked, making it an interesting view for the guests of the fine Hilton Hotel placed right in front of the building…

But from the mid-90´s on, with a slow but steady recover of our old downtown, and with the firm hand of “Mr. Afonso”, who became the manager of this huge condominium in the last years (is he still there? I am not sure), Copan has again become the stylish house for architecture students and young artists, together with the old ladies who have never left their homes despite all the changes in the urban life of SP, and with the same prostitutes and transsexuals who always inhabited the curves of this concrete vertical city. Yes, a small city, once that around 5000 people inhabit its 1160 apartments (of various sizes and prices) in 120 000 square meters of built area (with 115 meters high).

Anyway, despite it is now forbidden to sunbath on the brise-soleil, and the Hilton Hotel has recently been inactivated, you can still find in the street market that blocks the way below the building, among pirate copies of the latest blockbusters and mp3, pairs of binoculars and small telescopes for a cheap price…

written by bruna_m

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