vocativDowntown São Paulo is a sprawling mess of towering skyscrapers and abandoned buildings – striking signs of a deep inequality that divides Brazil’s biggest city.

Average rent has risen by nearly 100% since 2008, and São Paulo has climbed to #19 on the list of most expensive cities. The recent World Cup sparked mass protests about unsustainable living costs in Brazil.

In early May, a tower block just steps away from the municipal legislature was taken over by a misfit group of musicians and artists. They redefined the space as a cultural center, holding events almost every day with no cover charge, and a creative revolution is happening within its dilapidated walls.

Every floor of Ouvidor 63 has something unique going on: jam sessions, theater or dance rehearsals, film screenings or street artists painting. Many occupants live in tents, and they’ve hooked up electricity and water. Some have decorated and personalized their corners of this drab concrete edifice.

There is a history of civil groups taking over old buildings in São Paulo, but the idea of a cultural occupation is newer. Unfortunately, it seems the utopia may not last: While Vocativ was filming, the residents of Ouvidor 63 were served with an eviction notice. Local authorities requested that they leave the property at once. Many artists are now trying to figure out their next move.

Produced for Vocativ by Frederick Bernas, Enrique Castillo, Mariah Wilson, Dusan Sekulovic and Sandro Kakabadze – September 2014.