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Tower of David: Urban Survival Creativity

by Ramón Iriarte (2740 words)

Some saw the occupation of the abandoned skyscraper as a legitimate solution to Venezuela’s economic paradox of ‘people without homes and homes without people’. Others saw it as the world’s tallest slum. In any case, turning the empty, unfinished building into a liveable space required perseverance and ingenuity.

Hipólito lives in a comfortable apartment on the 17th storey of the Torre de David, an enormous abandoned skyscraper complex in the centre of Caracas, Venezuela, a place widely known—and feared—as ‘the world’s tallest slum’. Simon Rafael La Rosa has been living on the 22nd floor of Torre de David for five years, along with his wife, son and dog. Like many of the tower residents, he is politically active, a committed supporter of the late Hugo Chávez and his Socialist Party. He and his family are waiting to be relocated to a new home, but Simon is thankful to the government for the opportunity to live in the tower.

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