Torre David: Informal Vertical Communities

by | 04. Jan 2013


Informal Vertical Communities-1.jpg

Torre David, a 45-story skyscraper in Caracas designed by Venezuelan architect Enrique Gómez, was almost complete when it was abandoned following the collapse of the Venezuelan economy in 1994.

Today, it is the improvised home of a community of more than 750 families, living in an extra-legal and tenuous occupation that some have called a vertical slum.


Photo © Iwan Baan


Photo © Iwan Baan

The authors spent a year studying the physical and social organization of this ruin-become home. The book documents the resident’s occupation of the tower and how, in the absence of formal infrastructure, they organize themselves to provide for daily needs, with a hair salon, a gym, grocery shops, and more.


Photo © Iwan Baan


Photo © Iwan Baan


Photo © Iwan Baan

Photo © Iwan Baan

Where some only see a failed development project, U-TT (Urban Think Tank) has conceived it as a laboratory for the study of informal vertical communities. In their exhibit at the 13th Biennale of Architecture in Venice the architects lay out their vision for practical, sustainable interventions in Torre David and similar informal settlements around the world. They argue that the future of urban development lies in collaboration among architects, private enterprise, and the global population of slum-dwellers.

U-TT issues a call to arms to their fellow architects to see in the informal settlements of the world a potential for innovation and experimentation, with the goal of putting design in the service of a more equitable and sustainable future.

Drawing courtesy U-TT

Section Perspective


Drawing courtesy U-TT

Floor Plan Perspective


Drawing courtesy U-TT

Mobility Concept


Drawing courtesy U-TT

Water Distribution

Alfredo Brillembourg founded Urban-Think Tank in Caracas in 1993. Hubert Klumpner joined Urban-Think Tank as Director in 1998.

U-TT, along with Justin McGuirk and Iwan Baan, were awarded the Golden Lion for the international competition at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. They were awarded for their installation, “Torre David/Gran Horizonte.”

Photo © Iwan Baan