|The view from my hostel's roof. Not shown in this photo: zoning laws.|
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Olá, São Paulo!
Olá! Tudo Bem? My name is Michael Costello, mechanical engineering student and member of the Olin College community of 2014. I'm spending the summer in São Paulo, Brazil, working with Urban3D, a start-up company which partially emerged from IDDS in 2012. Urban3D is working on creating new technology to supplement and automate the construction process, with the ultimate goal of producing low-cost, environmentally sustainable, community-oriented building to address the developing world's infrastructure needs. As a mechanical engineer with an intense interest in urban design and development, Urban3D has been a natural fit. I'll be spending the next few weeks working on the design and prototyping of Urban3D's mechanical systems. However, as part of my work, I am also learning about the city itself, so that the system we design will provide maximum positive effect for communities here. After spending twenty years in the city of Boston (metro population 4.6 million, metro area 11,700 sq km), the change from the familiar brownstone row-houses has shown me quite a bit about how cities react under intense human pressures, giving me a glimpse of the past and future of our rapidly-urbanizing world.
I'm a week into my trip already, so I've had some chance to get acclimated to the work environment and the new city. There's been plenty to think about. Having never traveled outside the country -- hell, outside of Massachusetts -- on my own, there are lots of topics I hope to reflect on. Already, I've been wrestling with some interesting ideas: the meaning of "international development," the philosophy of automation, the future of architecture, the strategies of constructing adequate infrastructure and solving social stratification (I have no answers so far, just more questions)... not to mention the more terrestrial experiences of being immersed in a different culture, like food, friends, work, fun, and conversing in Portuguese while not really knowing how to speak Portuguese. And, ultimately, the experience of getting used to a "normal routine" that is drastically different from the one I've always known. It's been an interesting experience so far, and the next few weeks promise to be equally exciting!