While Toronto looks to add more garish advertising to its street with a massive street furniture contract, Sà£o Paulo, Brazil has taken another route and gone ad-free. Back in Sept. 2006, the Spacing Wire first reported on these rumours, but now residents of the city of 11-million are seeing the results. The article from the International Herald Tribune gives a good overview, while photos on Flickr shows the transformation of the city’s visual landscape. From the IHT:
[T]his city of 11 million, overwhelmed by what the authorities call visual pollution, plans to press the “delete all” button and offer its residents unimpeded views of their surroundings.
But in proposing to transform the landscape, officials have unleashed debate and brought into conflict sharply differing concepts of what this city, South America’s largest and most prosperous, should be.
City planners, architects and environmental advocates have argued enthusiastically that the prohibition, through a new “clean city” law, brings Sà£o Paulo a welcome step closer to an imagined urban ideal.
The law is “a rare victory of the public interest over private, of order over disorder, aesthetics over ugliness, of cleanliness over trash,” Roberto Pompeu de Toledo, a columnist and author of a history of Sà£o Paulo, wrote in the weekly newsmagazine Veja. “For once in life, all that is accustomed to coming out on top in Brazil has lost.”
But advertising and business groups regard the legislation as injurious to society and an affront to their professions. They say that free expression will be inhibited, jobs will be lost and consumers will have less information on which to base purchasing decisions. They also argue that streets will be less safe at night with the loss of lighting from outdoor advertising.
“This is a radical law that damages the rules of a market economy and respect for the rule of law,” said Marcel Solimeo, chief economist of the Commercial Association of Sà£o Paulo, which has 32,000 members. “We live in a consumer society and the essence of capitalism is the availability of information about products.”
photos by Tony De Marco
PS: thanks to the 20-plus readers who forwarded us this story.