AA São Paulo Visiting School

2010 – 2020



Saturuday December 11th – Friday 17th, 2021


The “AA Visiting School Sao Paulo 2021 – Play Structures” will be the first of a two-part workshop series led by architect and Professor Kristof Crolla, to be conducted in a hybrid online – physical format. The first workshop will explore the combination of bamboo construction and digital design technology, building upon previous research into digital design used for the implementation of bending-active bamboo shell structures. The course will advance work conducted with the University of Hong Kong’s Building Simplexity Lab, so to combine an exploration of architectural design with digital real-time physics-simulation engines to create physical prototypes of these low-tech, lightweight construction systems within the Brazilian context, aided by a team of local digital design experts and members of the @subdv_architecture team.

The second-part of the two-part workshop, which will take place in July 2022, will build these bamboo structures at a one-to-one scale, inspired by those that were temporarily deployed along the Minhocão elevated highway during the 2019 Visiting School São Paulo High Line workshop. These interventions unexpectedly inspired both adults and children to play, and created a type of consciousness of the urban realm and a sense of urban citizenship and community. Students in the July 2022 workshop will work on creating novel playful structures for a re-appropriation of the urban space in downtown São Paulo.

The course consists of two main chapters: 1) procedural bending-active bamboo shell design exploration, and 2) design system evaluation through design prototyping.



+55 11 99669 6967 (In Portuguese or English)






Thursday July 4th – Saturday 13th, 2019
Escola da Cidade


The polemic elevated highway, the ‘minhocão’ (the ‘large worm’ in Portuguese), that winds its way through the São Paulo city centre was a result of misguided urbanism in the 1960’s, as it created a fracture in the urban fabric, leaving abandoned derelict buildings and dark precarious ground conditions along its path. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/dec/01/taming-worm-minhocao-elevated-highway-sao-paulo   While cities like Rio de Janeiro are tearing down their elevated highway systems, the minhocão remains a highly debated problem amongst politicians and urbanists in São Paulo. In contrast, when the Minhocão is closed to traffic on Sundays and on weekday evenings, it becomes a type of boardwalk, hosting a diversity of events from jogging and biking, to surreal theatre pieces performed from the windows of the neighboring buildings for spectators on the elevated highway.



This year, the city announced that it will be permanently deactivating parts of the Minhocão to create an elevated park, the Parque Minhocão, inspired by the High Line Project in New York. https://vejasp.abril.com.br/cidades/minhocao-capa-projeto-verde/  They have contracted the highly acclaimed urban designer and former mayor of Curitiba, Jaime Lerner to design the park, and part of his design include much needed shading structures that double as light filters over proposed apertures he wishes to create to illuminate the to the dark and damp underside of the highway. The AA Visiting School São Paulo 2019 will work on 1:1 prototype proposals for these shading structures using parametric weaving structures using bamboo and other locally sourced materials.


The design and fabrication of these parametric woven structures will be led by James Solly of http://formatengineers.com/ and Alison Martins @alisonmartin57, using analog and digital form-finding, structural plug-ins like Karamba and other custom scripts in Grasshopper Rhino, and a team of locally based architects and digital tutors, learning how to employ parametric structural design combined with other environmental mediation plug-ins and digital fabrication techniques to fabricate these large-scale prototype shading and light structures, so to speculate on new environmental and cultural interconnections in this striated disconnected urban space.



+55 11 3062 3522




Thursday July 5th – Saturday 14th, 2018

in partnership with Faculdade de Arquitetura  – Universidade de São Paulo  (FAU USP)
e no
INOVALAB@POLI: www.pro.poli.usp.br/inovalab


The mysterious underworld of abandoned galleries underneath Avenida Paulista are in stark contrast to the hot concrete sidewalks above.  As per the proposed LowLine project in New York City’s Lower East Side (http://thelowline.org/), participants will explore how these galleries could be a site for a new ground for much-needed cool public space that could spawn unexpected and alternative cultural interventions and help interconnect and animate existing underground systems.  The problem of bringing sunlight and people underground, which requires creating a dialogue and a redefinition of the street above as well, forms the focus of the workshop. Students will work with environmental design experts from London and São Paulo, to learn how to employ parametric design with environmental and structural plug-ins, to directly use sunlight and wind forces to sculpt light openings into these galleries. Students will also learn to employ digital fabrication at FAU USP to prototype and make models of their proposals for these environmentally articulated grounds.

LOCATION:  Faculdade de Arquitetura  – Universidade de São Paulo

r call 11. 9 9669 6967 (São Paulo)
Structural Manifestos
AA VISITING SCHOOL SÃO PAULO  –  April 14th–23rd, 2017  

MamouMani_TangentialDreams_BurningMan small-cropped 2)
Arthur MamouMani_Arthur MamouMani_with James Solly_ TangentialDreams_BurningMan

This workshop will explore the cultural roles of parametric design, computationally complex engineering, and the digital fabrication of one-to-one temporary installations in the public space of the manifesto, taught by Architect Arthur Mamou Mani http://mamou-mani.com/ and Engineer James Solly of the Institute for Building Structures and Structural Design http://www.itke.uni-stuttgart.de/, offering a unique opportunity to use computation to generate and simulate novel structural systems.

Architects, artists and activists have used the manifesto throughout history as a way of defining a call for social change, often using the urban setting as a venue for public protest.  In São Paulo, Avenida Paulista over the last two years, has been the epicenter for historic massive demonstrations, the types of which are now occurring across the world in this new age of political turmoil. Yet different from the international models, recent Brazilian public protests have been a veritable ‘Carnaval’ party backdrop for selfies, surrounded by the physical artifices of ‘trio elétrico’ (the large mobile raised stages used in Carnaval), pop-up information and security booths, city block-long banners, tents and other paraphernalia framed by the towering skyscrapers and fashionable shopfronts of the avenue. Students will explore the changing role of the design of physical installations within the context of the personal manifesto: varying between social propaganda and parasitic commercial infrastructure.

To produce these installations, students will first learn advanced digital modelling, parametric computational design and structural simulations using the new plug-in K2 Engineering for Kangaroo, and Karamba with Grasshopper in Rhino, before deriving their own set of computationally generated prototype proposals using the computer numerically controlled mill and router (CNC) and the 3D printer.  Individuals will produce their own series of computational interventions and small prototypes and, as a group produce a large 1:1 installation for an outdoor public space exhibition.


LOCATION:  LILO ZONE  –  Rua Harmonia, 797_Vila Madalena, São Paulo




For the first time in Brazil, architects from the computation department, CO|DE of Zaha Hadid Architects, Shajay e Vishu Bhooshan, Alicia Nahmad and Dave Reeves who are also professors of architecture in the Digital Research Laboratory (DR_L) of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, will teach how to program and use robots for the fabrication of architecture, for the 10-day design workshop of the Architectural Association Visiting School São Paulo, which will take place at the Fab Lab of the Escola de Bela Artes School of Architecture, from the 4th to the 13th of July, 2016.

This School intends to explore Computer Aided Design (CAD) as a means to enable architectural creativity whilst still responding to complex spatial and material performance constraints. The workshop will focus on the relations between contemporary design techniques, creative expression, software technology and its manifestation using Robotic Fabrication. It also seeks to use production-proven design methods and software platforms in a judicious mix with innovative research.

 We aim to continue both the exploration and streamlining of the multi-stage process of concept to physical manifestation and the agenda of exploring physics-based design methods, integration of form and structure, computational methods of optimisation for Robotic Fabrication and adaptation to local means, methods and craft.
We aim to design-build a sizeable prototype as part of the primary objective: ‘learning-by-doing’. The participants will be exposed to the same design tools, techniques and analysis methods as the ones used to design and build the prototype, using Maya, Rhino Grasshopper and Visual studio , C++. (no previous experience is needed, all these softwares will be taught ‘from zero’.  These will be used to generate a parametric installation, and special plug-ins for Maya and Grasshopper will be taught so to program the  2 MOTOMAN ROBOT ARMS we will have for the workshop, to fabricate at large-scale 1:1 installation.  We will work in the FAB LAB Belas Artes using as well their large CNC mill/router (2mx3m), laser cutter e 2 3D printers.

Raffles City, Hangzhou ©UNStudio

The city of São Paulo is characterized by an endless horizon of monolithic and non-descript towers. A newly instated City Master Plan promotes further vertical development by allowing for higher skyline and construction areas along public transportation corridors. Up until now, neighborhoods once characterized by two-story houses, gardens and ground- floor open shopfront programs, have been completely transformed by the introduction of fortressed monolithic residential and office towers, which lack any sort of urban street life.
The new master-plan, however, now requires buildings to have an open street façade to accommodate multiple programs.  Led by tutors from UNStudio (www.unstudio.com), the AA Visiting School São Paulo will address the changes being prescribed by the new masterplan through the redefinition of the tower typology in the extending of the ground of street culture, green landscapes and ecological mediation along the vertical axis of these buildings. For this, the workshop will teach advanced digital design, including Rhino and Grasshopper, and fabrication techniques, using the laser cutter and 3d printer,  to explore a series of novel differentiating structural and environmental organizations in the redefinition of the São Paulo skyscraper.  For any queries, please email:  brazilvisitingschool@aaschool.ac.uk

                                                                                                                                     su11 Changeling

São Paulo, Brazil, South America

July 22nd -31st, 2014

During the intense ten-day workshop of the AA São Paulo Visiting School 2014, advanced computational design and digital fabrication will be used to generate speculative new architecture models in the creation of a ‘liquid design’ that can mediate multiple-scale flows. The workshop will explore the redevelopment of a bordering territory along the Marginal Rivers of São Paulo, where in the 1960’s, much of the water-system was disastrously canalized, causing problematic flooding and the creation of ill-conceived residual post-industrial riverbanks that are inhabited by monolithic, large-scale programs such as sports centers, distribution centers, mega-stores and a convention center.   The Visiting School São Paulo will work on bringing a new urban life for these sites by redefining the existing macro-architectural typologies along the river with micro-scale interventions that can introduce new flows of urban street culture. Specifically, the workshop will focus on the reinvention of the large-scale market distribution center, CEAGESP (Companhia de Entrepostos e Armazéns Gerais de São Paulo), to introduce programs and structures that could mediate a new movement of people, commerce, and environmental forces using parametric design and fabrication.  Students can choose to work either at the larger architectural scale or at the scale of the shop-front display, bringing a new contemporary interface between agricultural production and consumption.

AA São Paulo Visiting School

“Liquid Urbanism”
July 16th – July 25th, 2013
FILE – International Festival of Electronic Language

The premise of the 2013 São Paulo Visiting School is to re-define urban architecture through creating a symbiotic fusion between landscape, infrastructure and building design.  Workshops, lectures and seminars will challenge the environmentally destructive urban planning of the 1960’s local government of São Paulo, which destroyed major water systems to build a network of macro-scaled roadways and zoning divisions, which has caused flooding, pollution and urban decay.  Instead, the Visiting School promotes an intricate integration of natural eco-systems within new multi-modal interfaces connecting urban transport and building infrastructures. This will be achieved through the use of advanced computational design incorporating parametric design and interactive media, to create highly responsive landscape-urban systems.

Festival Internacional de Linguagem Eletrônica – FILE at Instituto Cervantes
10-19 JULY 2012

The Barra Funda district of São Paulo was once characterised by a vibrant mix of small industrial, commercial and residential programmes, but over time, as economic policies have favoured agglomerated, larger production industries, numerous companies have abandoned the area and moved to the periphery or even abroad. In response to this decentralisation, the workshop proposes the creation of new types of smaller industries to produce a mix of both consumption and production within the centre, manifested through micro-manufacturing interventions that can co-exist alongside retail and housing. At its core will be the idea that computational design and digital fabrication can be used to help create these new micro-industries, which in turn will help empower local craftsman to produce and sell directly to consumers through micro-manufacturing, located in small urban workshops implanted within the centre district.

Bienal Internacional de Arquitetura de São Paulo
29/11/2011 – 02/12/2011

Extending the São Paulo High-Low Visiting School, this four-workshop programme will focus on the 1:1 fabrication design of an interactive pavilion for the 2012 International Festival of Electronic Language (F.I.L.E.). To be located along Avenida Paulista, the aim is to create an interactive and supple design, using recursive scripting, associative modelling, processing and Arduino with digital fabrication. Based on the Strings Pavilion design of the 2011 High-Low workshop, the pavilion will react to light sensors and human activity, so as to transform and create a range of different lighting and spatial effects, triggering further movement of the pavilion and producing an interactive feedback loop of behaviour and response.

Festival Internacional de Linguagem Eletrônica – FILE
12–21 JULY 2011

The aim of this programme is to rehabilitate environments, populations and materials through the use of innovative computational ecological design and digital fabrication processes. With these tactics we will define a new generation of digital design that employs both high-tech and low-tech strategies. Parametric design generation and digital fabrication techniques will be used to computationally redesign low-tech building strategies, mixing high-tech exper­tise with local labour knowledge. One objective of the workshop is to transform sustainable design strategies so as to bring to ecological design a new aesthetic and social agenda.

AA – NAi Design Workshop São Paulo
16 – 24 July 2010

The goal of the joint Architectural Association and Netherlands Institute of Architects (AA- NAi) Design Workshop in São Paulo is to explore the rehabilitation of otherwise obsolete, residual and overlooked urban environments, communities and physical materials, through critical urban analysis seminars, as well as through the use of innovative computational design and digital fabrication processes. With the impetus provided by the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, the organisers, sponsors and local micro-agencies seek ways in which sports culture can transform troubled urban environments. In response, so to encourage grassroots sports participation, this Workshop will design and produce prototypes for outdoor sports facilities under the viaducts in the impoverished and multi-ethnic Glicério neighbourhood of São Paulo.