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Home Metrogenesis In The News Torre de David: Caracas

Torre de David: Caracas

Like something out of Gibson's Bridge trilogy, an enormous unfunctioning feature of modern society is overtaken by squatters and innovators in Caracas, Venezuela.  Torre de David, or the "Tower of David", is an unfinished 40+ story office building in downtown Caracas that has been overtaken by squatters and turned into a vertical neighborhood.  The building's original name, Centro Financiero Confinanzas, evokes its original purpose, but when the main investor, David Brillembourg, passed away in 1993, the construction stopped and the new tenants slowly moved in.

Torre de David, Caracas, Venezuela, photo by Julia King/J Combrari

The current occupation is overseen by religious leader Alexander Daza, an ex-criminal who found religion in prison.  Daza took control of the Torre de David three years ago in an attempt to remove the anarchy of gangs and drug dealers, in order to move towards a more structured, civil society.   Although the building itself is little more than a concrete frame, residents have hauled in construction materials, generators and power, satellite dishes and televisions, and anything else needed to make a little neighborhood catering to the families living within.   The building houses more than just residential areas; shops and other neighborhood amenities dot the building map, providing resources for residents so that they needn't walk the stairs for food or supplies.

As with most shantytowns, it does sound like there are the usual main problems:  sanitation and enforcement.  Most articles talk about fear of crime - including the authors themselves - and while Daza sounds like he has a devoted following, he lacks the power to truly eliminate the embedded contraband issues.   Not having proper sewage and water service, the building also suffers from the lack of clean-in and dirty-out.    As the residents have moved in from the outer shantytowns afflicted by those same limitations, there may be a greater tolerance for it than first-world people are accustomed to, but those problems would need to be resolved to make the Torre de David a less dangerous place to live.   The risks of falling off a ledge are addressed rather quickly; the problems of dysentery and drug abuse are more nebulous and difficult to control.