This next picture was my first view, from an overpass. The Centro Cultural is the low structure just past the building on the right. It is built into the ground, unlike everything around it. It's modern in that exposed-beam-and-concrete way, but it felt airy and light.
Here's the roof on one side. The gardeners were working on the other side. It's on the other side that they have periodic saraus in collaboration with the planetarium, with telescopes set up for night sky viewing (in this city of 19 million, it's still possible to see the stars and moon, I can attest).
There are many places for people to sit. If it hadn't been quite so warm out, I might have made myself comfortable on this bench, or on another like it nearby:
Inside, here is one of the ramps going down to the next level. Lots of clean lines everywhere.
In the middle, there's an garden with a wonderfully jungly feel to it. I love the big tree in this picture. I'll try to get another shot of one somewhere in the city.
All this was quite striking, but even more so was the wide range of activities available. Here is what I did there in a few hours in the middle of a weekday:
- Toured an exhibit about the Salao de Maio, an artists salon in the 1930s
- Sat and watched short documentaries, part of an exhibit on city life in Latin America (I'm hoping I got this right)
- Heard a storyteller in the library, as did a group of schoolchildren. There's a circulating collection, a Braille library, a collection of graphic novels and a music library.
- Watched an open dance jam. Every Tuesday dancers come to play together at noon.
- Wandered through the bookstore.
- Sat in a quiet spot and wrote.
- Ate lunch at the cafe, another of those pay-by-the-kilo restaurants that is so prevalent (and good) here.
There is a large materials conservation and restoration lab at the center, a multimedia archive, and archives of ethnographic materials collected from around the country in a massive project begun by Mario Andrade. (In that article, he's called "Brazil's national polymath." Imagine being called that! At any rate, even sixty years after his death, he still commands great respect.)
There's so much more at the center: dance, theater, arts, music, movies, debates, lectures. Pati said there are around 80 events a month here, so the joint is jumpin'. You'll just have to come see it for yourselves.