This Abandoned Office Tower In Caracas Is The World’s Largest Vertical Slum

Published 10 years ago

This unfinished 45-story skyscraper has stood in the center of Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, for almost 20 years. What was supposed to be the third-highest skyscraper in Venezuela is now the largest vertical slum in the world.

The construction of the skyscraper, known as the Tower of David (Torre de David), stopped in 1994 after the death of its developer. Due to the Venezuelan banking crisis that came soon after, the construction never managed to start up again. Over the past 8 years, however, people have begun inhabiting the building, turning it into a sort of self-sufficient city (there were about 750 families living in there in 2012). Now, nearly 70% of Caracas residents live in slums. Besides the many apartments in the tower, it also has shops, grocery stores and other services on each floor, as well as a church and a common gym on the roof. Each floor can be considered part of its own micro-economy.

Photographer and urban documentarian Iwan Baan has been capturing the lives of people all around the world and how they relate to the architecture and structures they inhabit. Besides his pictures of the Tower of David below, be sure to check out his TED talk about his work.

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The 45-story Tower of David stands in the center of Caracas, Venezuela.

Seniors and the less physically fit live on the lower floors while the young and healthy occupy the higher ones because the 45-story building has no elevator. Public spaces, such as the stairwell, are painted with bright colors to feel more like home.

Holes in the walls like this serves to promote air circulation, as the average temperature in Caracas reaches 28 degrees C.

Every family marks their space with any materials that they can find or purchase. In this apartment, newspapers serve as wallpaper.

Each floor has a collection of shops, grocery stores and services available.

There is even a common gym on the roof with with weights that were made from unused elevator equipment.

The tower provides a skeleton framework that lets the inhabitants find their own way to make their place feel like home.

Nearly 70% of people in Caracas, Venezuela live in slums that drapes like silk over the city’s hills.

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