In late July, police began relocating residents of Torre David, the 620-foot-tall unfinished skyscraper that thousands of squatters in Caracas, Venezuela, call home.
Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner, directors of the design practice Urban-Think Tank, spent more than year studying the building and its residents for what would eventually become their 2012 book, Torre David: Informal Vertical Communities. The book’s photographs, by renowned architecture photographer Iwan Baan, provide a snapshot of life in the controversial community, which was often derided as a crime-ridden slum.
The complex, originally intended as a commercial development, was only partially finished when Venezuela’s banking crisis stopped construction in 1994. In 2007, a group of squatters took control of the abandoned tower. Over the years it has become home to hundreds of families, who turned the unfinished skyscraper into a high-rise community.
Informal as the settlement was, the building’s inhabitants created their own distinct society within the skyscraper’s walls, complete with resident-run shops, security guards, and shared electricity and water. Baan’s photos show how residents altered the construction site to fit their needs, constructing homes, businesses, and even exercise facilities.