SESC Pompeia – Concrete Oasis

SESC Pompeia is a cultural centre in the east zone of São Paulo, designed by the architect Lina Bo Bardi, and opened in 1982. The site is one of the world’s great democratic spaces in a city often lacking in them. The level of thoughtfulness and sense of place is on par with great buildings like the Royal Festival Hall on London’s Southbank.

The complex is a collection of renovated and purpose built structures on a former factory site in central São Paulo. The concept behind the project was the culmination of Bo Bardi’s experiences with local culture from her arrival from Italy in 1946, resulting in a truly Brazilian architecture. The buildings are “popular appropriations” of existing space, materially they are constructed strictly within the constraints of the time, as cheaply and robustly as possible. The centre contains reading rooms, community classrooms, popular restaurants and bars, theatre and a vertical sports complex.

It is a concrete oasis in a concrete jungle & anyone visiting São Paulo for the first time should add this to their itinerary, there is a continuous cultural and arts program with music and exhibitions.

SESC Pompeia on the web

Photographed by Louis Smith


Louis Smith
Formerly Brasil based, London trained architect and writer. Louis studied Political Science before moving into Architecture. Louis has been studying, thinking and writing about Brazil for over 15 years and spent a period living in Buenos Aires in 2002. Specialist areas of interest include Brazilian development, urbanism and architecture.



Why Bolsonaro’s Auto-Coup Will Fail: An Interview With Manuel Gerson

Since 1932, Brazil's elections have been managed by an electoral court system which establishes rules for and regulates the entire voting process, with the...

Brazil Military’s “Parallel Vote Count” Poses Great Risk To Democracy

By Guilherme de Queiroz-Stein for Brasil de Fato Any concession to a “parallel count” of the 2022 elections by the Armed Forces poses a great...

Israeli Company Hired By Army To “Supervise” Brazil’s Election Spreads Disinformation

Spokesperson for the Mossad-linked Israeli company CySource, Hélio Sant'Ana was IT director at Palácio do Planalto during the Bolsonaro government, and has been found...

YouTube Pushing Pro-Bolsonaro Content To Brazilians, Study Finds

With the 2022 election only weeks away, YouTube, owned by US tech giant Google, has been found to be favouring pro-Bolsonaro videos in its...