Breathing life into the Rosewood São Paulo

Creating the Rosewood São Paulo, the brand’s first South American property, was a labor of love. Opened January 2022, the hotel is located within Cidade Matarazzo, a seven-acre urban oasis of Atlantic Forest terrain featuring early-20th-century buildings now transformed into private residences, high-end stores, entertainment venues and the restored 1922 Santa Luzia Chapel.

Contributed by Alicia Sheber

Rosewood São Paulo is formed from the new Mata Atlantica Tower with its vertical garden, and the 1904 former Matarazzo Maternity hospital where over 500,000 babies were born before its 1993 closure.

Matarazzo Suite living room

Developer Alexandre Allard assembled a design dream team, including Pritzker Prize–winning architect Jean Nouvel and artistic director Philippe Starck, whom he’d previously commissioned for Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris. The Matarazzo Maternity building includes six restaurants and 46 guest rooms and suites, some with original features from labor and delivery spaces, while the new tower contains 114 guest rooms and suites plus 100 private suites for purchase.

Over 12-plus years, the team developed a concept conceived as a source of pride for Brazilians by celebrating the country’s artistry and natural abundance.

Le Jardin terrace

Nouvel designed the timber-clad, 330-foot-high Mata Atlantica Tower as an extension of the Atlantic Forest parkland. Overlapping trellises and brise-soleils support 10,000 trees selected as part of a biodiversity program to repopulate indigenous flora and fauna.

Rosewood calls the project Brazil’s largest upcycling project. “Throughout the construction, the message really was, ‘feito por Brasileiros’, or ‘made in Brazil, by Brazilians,’” says Edouard Grosmangin, managing director, Rosewood São Paulo. “This gives the project value. Every single piece of wood or marble is from Brazil, along with the savoir faire of how to maximize its beauty.”

Blaise Restaurant

Timber in the Belavista Rooftop Pool and Bar is certified by Brazil’s Forest Stewardship Council, and all marble was quarried in the Paraná and Bahia states, including white dolomitic limestone magnesium suited to Matarazzo Maternity’s original Tuscan-style architecture. Grosmangin says the property will use 100% renewable energy within a year and just signed a 15-year contract for a dedicated solar farm outside São Paulo.

Other sustainable measures include a glass breaker, as Grosmanging estimates the hotel will produce four tons of sand from glass every month, and a biodigester.

Giving a voice to Brazil’s diverse creative community was key to Starck’s vision of sparking a ‘rebirth’ of the Paulistano arts scene. A 2014 exhibition held amongst the dilapidated hospital ruins featured 100 artists, with 57 well-known and up-and-coming participants commissioned for the hotel thanks to their passionate, multifaceted expressions of Brazil.

Grand Premier guest room

Starck briefed each with one guideline: creativity that respects the past yet points to the future. The resulting 450 site-specific works permeate every space. Virgilio Neto’s child-like drawings on the rooftop foyer’s walls depict imagined stories of the historical figure Count Matarazzo; in the corridors, street artist Caligrapixo depicts the buzz of urban São Paulo; and in Blaise brasserie, the apparently floral motif in Fernando de La Rocque’s tiles reveal upon closer inspection a woman giving birth.

“Everything has been designed to surprise and disturb in the right way,” Grosmangin says. “With talented artists and architects, we have brought to life the best of what Brazil has to offer.”