Torre David: The fallen paradise

I’d like to think that each city in this world hosts a historic building with a peculiar past, serving as a symbol of the country’s untold heritage. The similarities of Ponte Tower and the vertical slum Torre David in Caracas, are many. As intriguing and fascinating as these modern day ruins may be (or in my liking: treasures) its important to share the underlying stories, stripped of any remote political motives – for the sole purpose of rewriting our own history and pinpointing our cultural identity. What happens when an ideal place for living ends up representing the opposite? Does the promise of a utopia ever die?

ml_TorreDavid_685_03The Torre David (commonly being as the ‘world’s tallest slum’) stood vacant for over a decade, years later approximately 750 families from the slums moved into the tower, turning the empty building into their home. Notably, the construction of the notorious Torre David (Tower of David) began in 1990 and was designed by Enrique Gómez, but stopped abruptly in the midst of the Venezuelan banking crisis which erupted in 1994. With the thriving intention to symbolise ‘the center of Venezuela’s developing financial future’ the building dominates the city’s skyline majestically but sadly remained an unravelled enigma. It’s history has long been perceived as an unusual, unique and dark establishment representing decay and decline mirroring the reign of former President Hugo Chávez.


Today, the building, a 45-story unfinished office tower, stands unfinished and the story of the building’s past present and future has been examined curiously. In ‘Torre David’ (2013) Urban-Think Tank and directors Markus Kneer & Daniel Schwartz spent a year studying the physical and social organization of this ruin-turned-home documenting the monument for the sole purpose of engaging the public in a local and global discussion whilst battling the reputation of downfall – crime, poverty, drugs and corruption.


The short film premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) (on November 22nd, 2013) and explores an unconventional way of living uncovering why people build homes in unlikely places, providing an endearing tour through the homes of Torre David.

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All Photographs by Iwan Baan

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Torre David Trailer (2013)

Directed by: Markus Kneer & Daniel Schwartz

Editing: Markus Kneer

Music by: Canserbero

Sound: Daniel Schwartz

Production: Alfredo Brillembourg & Hubert Klumpner (for Urban Think Tank)