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Added : June 26, 2007

Last Updated: November 16, 2010

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No More Visual Pollution?

No More Visual Pollution?

Rather remarkable that a city would ban all public signage and advertising. But São Paulo did it.

The outsized billboards and screens that dominate the skyline, promoting everything from automobiles, jeans and cellphones to banks and sex shops, will have to come down. All other forms of publicity in public spaces, like distribution of fliers, will also stop.

There are worries that much of the "vernacular" lettering and signage from small businesses—an important part of the city's history and culture—will be lost.

Marina tells me it is all true and that "the city is much better now."

I wonder if it is motivated by politics of globalization or maybe the same desire for order that spawned Brasilia? Or maybe it is just a city, like most others, making local ordinances to manage growth?

Photo Source: Tony De Marco

 
   

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Jenny Cestnik said on July 31, 2007

I'm amazed that a city the size of São Paulo was able to manage this; the ordeal must have resulted in quite a few headaches! It's interesting to see cities that carry such an intense dependency on advertising try to deal with the problem, who can say when it all becomes too much? I'm reminded of Venturi's "Learning from Las Vegas", it seems that in certain urban areas, signage becomes civic identity rather than pollution (Vegas, New York, Tokyo?) I wonder if a city can remain commercially successful in the long term without them, or what method of advertisement will eventually take its place. It will be interesting to keep an eye on!

 
 

Brian Slawson said on August 01, 2007

Thanks for the response, Jenny. Agreed, even though it is 30 yrs old, designers should take some time to read Learning from Las Vegas. Maybe also some Jane Jacobs or Richard Sennett's provocative book: The Uses of Disorder. Celebrating the mixture and melange, collision and cacophony that urban communities provide.