Built at the end of the 19th century and extended twice (1919 and 1937), this 1050m² construction houses the main office of Sabesp (Basic Sanitation Superintendency of São Paulo State) in the Santos Bay area, as well as Business Unit Superintendency and the Saturnino de Brito Museum.
The Art Deco furniture has been the same since August 28, 1937, when the extension work was started on the building, which had doubled its constructed area in 1919. It occupies a site previously used as a skating rink, Greco-Roman wrestling ring , circus and even a bullfighting ring.
Saturnino de Brito
The original two-story building, from 1903, was designed to house the Sanitation commission, headed by engineer Francisco Saturnino Rodrigues de Brito, the Father of Sanitary Engineering in Brazil. He was responsible for the pioneering systems of drainage and the network of sewers that freed the city of epidemics and guaranteed the development of Santos. His sanitation project for the city, whose population at that time was 44,500, made provision for 66 kilometers of sewer network, 12 kilometers of emissaries, ten lift stations, a terminal plant and a suspension bridge. Built in 1914, in São Vicente, the bridge used to guide the pipes that ejected the sewerage into the sea at Ponta de Itaipu, the area known today as the Municipality of Praia Grande.
The great wrought iron entrance door attracts the attention of anyone arriving at the main hall, with its distinctive Brazilian marble floor and staircase in the same material, framing the imposing stained glass window ‘Os Bandeirantes’ (The Pioneers). The floor is also decorated with strips of granite flecked with brass. The indirect lighting comes from plaster conduit, modeled and painted with majolica effect (a technique originating in Italy). Lighting the staircase, there is also a stained glass cupola displaying the crest of São Paulo State in the centre.
Stained Glass Window
Standing six meters high, the stained glass window ‘Os Bandeirantes’ (The Pioneers) depicts the ascent of the Serra do Mar Range by the Bandeirantes. Produced by Casa Conrado, in São Paulo, the very colorful images with elaborate figures are equated to modern tropicalism. It was the first work in the ‘Brazilian style’, created by Conrad Sorgenicht II, son of the German artist of the same name who, in the 19th century, brought the art of stained glass to Brazil. In 1925, he traveled to Europe and brought back the Belgian François Frank Urban, who worked for many years at Casa Conrado and created the window at Sabesp, Santos. The artistic composition of the window shows a giant tree in the center foreground, a group of armed pioneers and Indians carrying heavy burdens. On the left, in the background, a strip of sea can be seen, with caravelles moored at the forest edge.
Still in the hall, the furniture used by Saturnino de Brito during the period when he worked in the city and created the drainage canal system still in use today. Now restored, the furniture helps to recount an important chapter of the sanitation project installed in Santos. Among the pieces, the writing desk used by Saturnino de Brito while working in the region.
A nearby room houses photos showing the history of sanitation in the Santos Bay area, images of the drainage canals at the time of their construction at the beginning of the 20th century, original equipment and projects developed by this sanitation engineer. Among the projects on display, the pioneering drainage systems, and network of sewers that freed Santos from epidemics and guaranteed its development.