Even by the standards of the glitzy Mipim international property fair in Cannes, where hundreds of stands promote eye-catching urban development schemes from around the world, Cidade Matarazzo – a large and innovative multi-use development in São Paulo – stood out at the 2019 gathering.

The numbers associated with the scheme – currently Brazil’s biggest construction site and projected to be its largest tourism project ever – are substantial even using the yardstick of São Paulo, one of the world’s biggest cities. The development is forecast to receive up to 30 million visitors a year by year five, involve almost Ä500m in investment, and create more than 5000 direct jobs and well over 10,000 indirect jobs.


City in a city

Slated to open in its first phases at the end of 2019, the ‘city within a city’ is designed to create synergies between design, architecture, culture, innovation and nature. Located on a converted heritage site next to a park in the Bela Vista area of São Paulo, Cidade Matarazzo will offer office, retail, hotel, gastronomy and cultural and entertainment facilities as well green spaces, including a large ‘urban forest’, a green tower and urban farms with market stalls.

Among the many culturally diverse offerings, there will be places of worship for multiple religions, and 69 ‘houses of the tribes’ for indigenous tribes to sell artisan products. The site will showcase Brazilian craftsmanship, with more than 60 nanoshops displaying and promoting the best talent from the Nordeste or other ports of the country, selected by an expert committee.

Though the project is billed as ‘100% made in Brazil’, there are French connections at its core. The main driver behind it is French entrepreneur Alexandre Allard; well-known French architects and designers are involved, and French culture will be fully present in all its forms – artists, exhibitions, films fashion and gastronomy.

“I have invested in many markets around the world and by far Brazil is the largest untapped jewel in tourism in the world and São Paulo is the most unknown powerful city in the world,” says Mr Allard. “Brazilians are some of the most active tourists so there is gigantic domestic demand but a lack of supply and services to cater to it. We want to harvest the aspirations of Brazilians and make Cidade Matarazzo a magnet for them as well as for international visitors.”

Six stars

The objective is to attract 16 million visitors in the first year, growing to 30 million per annum within five years, and the project
will break several national records. It is set to include the largest city-centre logistics base anywhere – with thousands of messengers delivering goods ordered online or via the apps serving the retail and artisan offerings; the largest open-air museum in Brazil; the highest art installation at the world; the largest private cultural space in São Paulo, and the largest open-air museum in Brazil. There will be the first six-star hotel in South America, the Mata Atlantica tower, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.

It will also have what Mr Allard calls “the most advanced retail offer on the planet” bringing together the best designers, retailers and e-retailers “working to make sure the physical experience converges with the digital experience”. There will be an array of fashion runways built and French ateliers lending expertise. Cutting-edge new technologies will be deployed to enhance the consumer experience and a create “the store of the future”, while forward-thinking digital or retail companies are being sought to get involved in this aspect.

Retail offerings aside, Cidade Matarazzo, Mr Allard says, “is ultimately about experiences”, adding: “Everything that is creative and memorable about Brazil will be represented there.”