Renting or buying a real estate in some Brazilian cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo can be more expensive than renting it in New York city. Add to this the problem of oversaturation of major Brazilian cities and you will have a serious demand for space optimization. This is when the work of an architect becomes indispensable.
Changes in the usage of space in Brazil
As explained in the book “Brazil, Land of the Future”, by Stefan Zweig, Brazilians do not have the habit of valuating what is old. Even though the book was written more than 70 years ago, this aspect of the Brazilian culture is only changing now and this is not voluntary.
A foreigner walking in downtown São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro may think it is strange that the central areas of these cities look so dirty and sloppy, with buildings that are so poorly taken care of that it looks as if they had been abandoned.
As the buildings in downtown São Paulo were getting older, there was a shift of the business and financial center of the city to other areas, like Avenida Paulista, instead of the renovation of the already existing buildings. This movement went on through the years, resulting on the rise of new business and financial areas like Avenida Faria Lima, Avenida Luis Carlos Berrini and even Alphaville, a neighborhood located in another city, around 30km away from São Paulo city.
As the saturation of urban areas has reached a stage in which there is no area left for the construction of a new business and financial center, builders have started to turn their attention back to the downtown area and to apply a strategy already used by other major cities like Paris, New York and London: the retrofit.
Retrofit is basically the renovation of old buildings and has become an option for cities suffering from the lack of space. An example of this practice is the renovation of an old house located in an upscale neighborhood of Porto Alegre that now houses “Mínima Film Productions”.
Will I need an architect in Brazil?
The answer is “yes”. When constructing or renovating a building in Brazil, it is mandatory to have an engineer or architect to sign the project. Also, an architect will provide you a better usage of your space based on the concepts of solidity, functionality and beauty. This professional can help you choose the proper real estate for your company’s needs or find ways to customize and optimize the one you already have.
When hiring an architecture firm, make sure that they provide the following services:
- Advisement regarding the choice of the real estate: customer advisement regarding localization (distance from airport, major highways and avenues, restaurants, etc), safety and image;
- Architectural design: expertise in the elaboration of architectonic projects that meet customer’s needs regarding functionality, beauty and budget;
- Management of project implementation: some offices take care of all the stages involved in the implementation of the project, so that the customer does not have to worry about it.
To avoid headaches, make sure that all the technical aspects of the project - such as electrical wiring, fire prevention and air conditioning -, are covered by the architecture firm.
Your office, your corporate identity
The work of an architect goes beyond the development of a project or the optimization of the space. A good architecture must be able to translate the company’s identity to the elements that compose its working space.
According to Felipe Pacheco, from Felipe Pacheco Arquitetos, who has developed projects to Navteq Corporation and Seival Investments , the architecture firm must take into account its customer’s philosophy, mission, values, expansion plans and strategies. “The architecture firm needs to know your company, to understand if what is important to you is to transmit an idea of seriousness or if the focus is to express the creativity that is being developed in the work place."
Many companies have as a major concern the transmission of an image of seriousness and this is very valid. However, as industry as a whole has been more and more segmented, each niche has started to develop its own face. This is very clear in advertisement agencies, for example, where the creativity required to develop a project must be present in every inch of the working space. One example of this new trend is Escala Advertisement, an advertisement agency that, as mentioned in our article “Dress code in Brazil by industry” tries to transform its workplace in a young and “cool” atmosphere.
This corporate identity has also been extended to the location of the office. In São Paulo, for example, an office in Vila Madalena is very different from an office in Av. Luís Carlos Berrini, as the first one offers a younger and more bohemian atmosphere, while the other embodies a more traditional business model.
Do I need to speak Portuguese?
A major concern of foreigners coming to Brazil is the lack of bilingual professionals. As approached in the article “Are Brazilian banks ready for foreign investments?”, many of the services offered in the country are only available in Portuguese.
Also, foreigners coming to Brazil very often have to spend a considerable amount of time – and money! – with sworn translations, what hampers the flow of negotiations. A few companies are specialized in providing assistance to foreign customers, being already familiar to the settlement of contracts in English, handling the entire process and representing the foreign company in Brazil.
This article was written along with Felipe Pacheco Arquitetos, an architecture firm from Porto Alegre, RS, specialized in the assistance of foreigners looking for architecture services in Brazil. For more information, visit their website