The Copan Building is one of Sao Paulo’s most recognizable landmark buildings. The first time I visited São Paulo, I stood outside the building gazed up and just took photos. Now that I live here, I’ve learned that the Copan has a lot more to offer on the inside. The building, like a mini-Niemeyer city is a great destination for a culinary and cultural afternoon. With over 2,000 residents, it is no wonder the building hosts hair salons, stores, restaurants, travel agencies, bookstores, galleries, dry cleaners… everything you would need in a little town (even its own post code).
One of the best stops in Copan is the Pivô Gallery which describes itself as a “espaço de arte autônomo e sem fins lucrativos”. It is an unpredictable space that breaks away from a conventional gallery in its approach to creating a new model for an aesthetic space. Instead of just exhibiting the final finished product, the gallery attempts to expose the entire process behind the concept and creation of art. I think this model is interesting especially in the art world where sometimes the glossy exterior can be intimidating and the actual creative process is overlooked. It is rare to get glimpses into an artist’s studio, instead the art is traditionally viewed directly from a gallery. However, in Pivô’s case, the gallery hosts both the final exhibits and also workshops, residencies and lectures created by the exhibited artists. Check the calendar online for more information regarding the agenda.
After visiting the gallery, the newly opened gourmet Mexican restaurant “La Central” (directly next door) serves wonderful food including tacos, ceviches and more substantial main dishes. With a modern and clean design, it’s a great food spot and a new addition to the little explored Mexican cuisine in Brazil. If you’re still in the art mood - admire the beautiful Paulo Nazareth photographs on the walls. Also closeby is Bar da Onça, a São Paulo classic and Copan establishment. While I prefer the food at “La Central”, Bar da Onça has the old-time São Paulo charm and is worth stopping by if even for a coffee.
Lastly, I’d recommend walking throughout the ground floor of building to see the lobbies of all the “blocos” leading to apartments. The beautiful 1960’s wooden curved structures, tilework and integrated cafes and shops show the genius of Oscar Niemeyer’s building. In an area where safety is a concern, it is amazing to see creative minds coming together to unite the history of the city with the potential this area could have in the future.