Mind the Step Alves Guimarães

The Mind the Step initiative was launched in 2014 from the pilot project developed for the staircase located at Rua Alves Guimarães, in Pinheiros, São Paulo. Cidade Ativa drafted it as a response to the Urban Urge International Competition, an initiative of Columbia University GSAPP and the Urban Research Group (URGE) aimed at realizing ideas and making physical changes in local communities.

“How would you transform a community with US$ 4,000?” The question posed by the contest led to a reflection on how urban designers and architects are trained and on the conventional methods of designing and implementing urban interventions. As a direct result of these questions, the team created a new collaborative process way of working, which inspired other Cidade Ativa initiatives.

Staircase before and after the intervention. Credit: Cidade Ativa

The team recognized the importance of consulting staircase users about their habits and their impressions on the place.

Thus, a first step was to organize a workshop with the community bringing music and playful activities, which also called the attention of passers-by. At that time, the team created posters to collect data on users and record the opinion on what people expected from a requalification of the space. This tool, later called “interactive panels”, has been improved and used in most of the organization’s research and projects.

Workshop results were summarized and taken into account for preparing a preliminary design, which was then validated with residents and presented to the Urban Urge team.

Mind the Step was one of the projects awarded by the competition. There was an effort by the team to collect signatures on a petition and present the initiative to Pinheiros’ Regional City Hall, thus obtaining the permits to execute some of the improvements foreseen in the project. The interventions were carried out in three stages with the support of volunteers:

  1. Painting workshop, on the temporary construction site wall facing the staircase, and wheatpaste posters workshop, with the support of the graphic artist Catarina Bessell and the company GEDI –  Desenvolvimento e Inovação;
  2. Urban furniture workshop, led by the specialists of Zoom Urbanismo Arquitetura e Design and Super-Limão Studio 1, with the support of Vale do Cedro company, resulting in the construction of six benches, a picnic table and a garbage bin;
  3. Graffiti workshop, led by the artist Mari Pavanelli.