The Tower of David (photograph by JoséMa Orsini, via Flickr)
The staggering 45-story Centro Financiero Confinanzas, better known as the Torre de David or the Tower of David, is notorious as the world’s tallest slum. Yet the reality of everyday life for the around 2,500 of people who make the unfinished concrete shell their home is something different.
Recently, Vocativ went inside and met some of the residents of the Tower of David for a short documentary released earlier this month. The abandoned skyscraper was started in 1990, but with the Venezuelan banking crisis and the death of its developer, J. David Brillembourg whose name remains on the structure, construction ended in 1994. It was originally envisioned as a triumph of banking complete with a helipad up top. Despite never being designed for residential spaces, squatters moved in back in 2007, and it’s now for some people an unexpected solution to the ongoing housing crisis.
Elevator shafts are voids, so all residents have to climb the unfinished concrete stairs that cut through the skeletal beginnings of the building. Yet this community has instituted its own infrastructure, with pooled money going towards an electrical grid and aqueduct. There are even businesses like bodegas, a gym, hair salons, and a dentist. And the views are stunning, although the height with its unfinished walls and floors is a constant treacherous danger for all who live there.
In addition to the Vocativ documentary, there’s been recent attention on the Tower of David through a book released this year called Torre David with photographs by Iwan Baan, which are on view in an exhibition at Aedes Gallery in Berlin.
As Vocativ states: “Today, as the government is grappling with a citywide housing shortage, the tower is a stark monument to what could have been in the country’s crime-plagued capital. The tower is dogged by accusations of being a hotbed of crime, drugs and corruption. But to residents, many of whom have spent their entire lives there, it’s just home.”
Here’s the documentary:
THE WORLD’S TALLEST SLUM: THE TOWER OF DAVID, Caracas, Venezuela