The Tower of David in Caracas: a slum in a skyscraper

Who I am
Martí Micolau

Author and references

We tell you the story of a city that had a dream: demonstrate your economic ambition. But above all we tell you the story of a building destined to host this dream. The skyscraper of Via Andrès Bello, in the heart of Caracas, was to be the elegant and opulent financial center of the city with its 45 floors. A dream broken in half, which for years has seen this imposing structure transform into largest favela in the world. For better or for worse ... as long as you talk about it: this is it the story of the Tower of David.


  1. From Seat of Financial Power to Slum: The Story of the Tower of David
  2. From illegal occupation to eviction
  3. The Gran Horizonte project by Urban Think-Tank
  4. User questions and comments

From Seat of Financial Power to Slum: The Story of the Tower of David

È the largest building in the world to have been squatted by economically disadvantaged families, 28 of its 45 floors housed (illegally) families and homeless people. The story of this skyscraper begins in the 90s when David Brillembourg, Venezuelan banker, dreamed of an imposing financial center right in the heart of Caracas to symbolize Venezuela's economic ambition: let's talk about Tower of David, a building destined to become headquarters of the Confinanzas financial group and the Banco Metropolitano. But in 1994 the economic crisis stopped the project changing the fate of this structure and making it become the largest vertical favela in the world.
The Tower of David in fact (so called because it takes the name of its creator) is the third tallest skyscraper in Venezuela and eighth in all of South America.

From illegal occupation to eviction

In 2007, after years of neglect, the Tower it is elected as a home by over 2.500 Venezuelan families that occupy it, making it habitable thanks to small renovations. In reality, there is no precise estimate of how many occupying families are, but according to a census they vary from 1.400 to 2.500. As it is not known what actually happened inside the building: some of the residents claimed the skyscraper was the centerpiece of criminal activities and lair of criminal gangs others argued that it was a sort of "common" model, the lifeline to avoid the barrios, really run by criminals.

Inside, the occupants had organized everything perfectly: corridors polished every day with established shifts, rules and notices marked on the walls, apartments and spaces divided and well kept. It also "boasted" a gym on the terrace e some stores makeshift (for example a hairdresser!) obtained in what must have been luxurious offices.
But life in such a situation was certainly not easy, although the residents tried to make it a dignified and clean place, unfortunately unpleasant accidents happened as the structure, being incomplete, it was not secured: unfortunately it has happened several times that someone fell from the upper floors of the skyscraper due to the unsafe window sills. there were no elevators so many were forced to long treks, there were no bathrooms and the connections with water and light were difficult.
All this led the government to opt for the eviction, which took place in July 2014 in a completely peaceful way, which saw groups of families leave the building to move into new homes wanted by the former (late) socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

The Gran Horizonte project by Urban Think-Tank

A Tower of David project unexpectedly struck the prestigious jury of the Venice Biennale which in 2012 even awarded it with the Golden Lion for Architecture. The "missed skyscraper" is in fact considered a perfect example of Common Ground and collective and informal living. An award not only to the project but above all to the inhabitants of the building who, despite the conditions, were able to give new life and intended use to a building left unfinished and abandoned.
The highest example of a vertical squat, a symbol of the housing shortage in Caracas, was thus chosen for the Gran Horizonte project by Urban Think-Tank: an installation with sounds, videos and images to pay homage to the vertical community of Caracas.

Audio Video The Tower of David in Caracas: a slum in a skyscraper
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