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Deluxe Apartment In The Sky
April 26, 2014 7:21 AM   Subscribe

The Tower of David skyscraper in Caracas was abandoned in 1994, and remained vacant until 2007 when squatters moved in. There is now a vibrant community living within its walls.
posted by reenum (42 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Amazing to me. This is really cool. I like the stores and playing basketball in the garage and salvaging metal...sounds like a really busy place. I would have liked to visit Kowloon Walled City some day but this would be very interesting too.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 7:30 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Wow. So, we can assume that there are no elevators running in this building, I suppose? That's a lotta stairs for some of these residents to climb!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:30 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


So many balconies with NO GUARDRAILS AIEEEEEEEEEE
posted by localroger at 7:41 AM on April 26 [5 favorites]


This looks like that fun resort where they kept Brody at one point. A modernist setup for the survival of the fittest, brutalism at its best.
posted by ouke at 7:44 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


WHAT COMMUNISM IS THIS??? TEAR IT DOWN!!!!

We can't just have people living somewhere rent free! Seriously though, that's pretty fucking rad.
posted by symbioid at 7:44 AM on April 26


Wow, that's incredible. The photos really conveyed the life and community within that building.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:46 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


This looks like that fun resort where they kept Brody at one point.

What, you mean in the Homeland episode "Tower of David"? :-P Those scenes were my favorite part of Season 2, the wretchedness of it. There was a lot written about the real Tower of David when that aired, e.g. The New Yorker. Apparently the TV episode was filmed in Puerto Rico.
posted by Nelson at 7:52 AM on April 26


I love where the one dude is all dressed up in a suit holding his child and going to work.

The dude in number 13, cooking, that masonry looks skeeeeeeeeetchy.

And the fact there's little shops in there? That's fucking rad. Seeing those guys at the top scavenging metal... Nope. TOO HIGH! And the 3 kids sitting in a cement window region just talking, I can totally dig that vibe.

How do they get electricity? Do they tap something? Is someone actually paying for it? Batteries? Generators? Porta-Fusions? How cyberpunk of a future is this?

Is it all classes living here? Mostly underclass? Is anyone collecting rent or is it truly all 100% squatting? Are some of the people being active in these pictures just people who hang out/play here but don't necessarily live here? Who owns this property? SOOOO MANY QUESTIONS!
posted by symbioid at 7:53 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


Here's a rather more in-depth piece of reporting on the Tower. It's not quite the unmitigatedly happy story the FPP piece suggests.
posted by yoink at 8:04 AM on April 26 [9 favorites]


How do they get electricity?

Venezuela's power grid is nationalized, isn't it? I suspect the tower was already hooked to the grid for construction purposes when it was abandoned.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:05 AM on April 26


Previously
posted by hippybear at 8:15 AM on April 26


Water is a more interesting question for me.

Anyway, this is really cool. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:22 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this is great, even if I could feel my palms starting to sweat as I scrolled down. Thanks, reenum!
posted by Zeinab Badawi's Twenty Hotels at 8:30 AM on April 26


I came here to post hippybear's Previously. (N.b.: flapjax said "wow" that time too.)
posted by languagehat at 8:30 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


Imagine trying to get people to show up to a potluck in a 44th floor walkup.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:59 AM on April 26 [5 favorites]


Man, this reminds me a lot of the building where the Karl Urban Dredd takes place.
posted by dismas at 9:48 AM on April 26 [6 favorites]


I get why this is championed by some people, but it just gives me the willies and suggests there is something deeply wrong going on. Why can't the municipality just seize it as abandoned property? Why can't they invest some oil money (I should know, we have a Venezuelan-owned Citgo station near my house) in completing it as properly-built social housing? (I have this fantasy of a low-impact renovation starting on the top floors that gradually installs services and works its way down as residents move into "real" apartments.) The safety issues seem insane -- no balcony railings, no stairway railings, open shafts everywhere, electrical connections with zero relationship to proper codes (designed to, you know, save lives), and so forth.

Some of the communal/anarchist elements, on the other hand, do seem like ideas that could be adapted to improve the state of social housing worldwide -- rather than the property-aligned set of rules that seem to lock everyone into defending their own little 750 sq. ft. of turf behind a locked steel door, a self-managed community might manage to avoid some of the urban hellhole end-games of places like Pruitt-Igoe, Cabrini Green, and Red Road.

This is all without even considering the sheer terror that comes from seeing that it's being actively dismantled while people are living there. Oh, yes, I'm sure those steel beams are doing absolutely nothing for the structural integrity....
posted by dhartung at 10:05 AM on April 26 [8 favorites]


I'd like to see the city or state seize it and bring it up to code so it's safe for the residents. You could then increase the number of residents and make it a real community. Rent controlled so it's not simply bought by the rich and it remains social housing.
posted by arcticseal at 10:27 AM on April 26


Water is a more interesting question for me.

That and waste - probably enough of the plumbing was in place already when construction stopped, I don't think it could be made to work otherwise.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:29 AM on April 26


Wikipedia
posted by Brian B. at 10:40 AM on April 26


YouTube
No elevators. Communal water and electricity.
posted by MtDewd at 11:19 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


This future we find ourselves living in, Its just like the old gypsy woman said! feels more and more like the dystopias William Gibson's writings prepared me for.
Expecting nano-machines growing reinforcements into quake damaged towers
and SpecOps guys in microlight aircraft hacking soviet defense systems with cyberspace decks any day now.
(#occupyoldbaybridge anyone?).

Thanks for posting this!
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 12:30 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


the property-aligned set of rules that seem to lock everyone into defending their own little 750 sq. ft. of turf behind a locked steel door

I don't quite follow that. It seems to me that the system of property rights is why I *don't* have to defend my property.
posted by jpe at 12:37 PM on April 26


This is all without even considering the sheer terror that comes from seeing that it's being actively dismantled while people are living there. Oh, yes, I'm sure those steel beams are doing absolutely nothing for the structural integrity....

Lets play jenga with our building!
posted by 2N2222 at 12:46 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


I agree that it would be lovely to actually finish this so comfort and safety could be brought to the residents, but then you have another high-rise "projects"-type housing, which probably wouldn't house these particular people, eh? And I image after 20 years in the weather, it's almost certainly a tear-down in any case.

And I assume every country in the world has situations like that, including and perhaps especially the US, it's just usually old warehouses and other nondescript structures.
posted by maxwelton at 12:59 PM on April 26


In the US the cops would have cleared it out on general principles, it being better to make homeless people freeze and starve than to let them use property they're not paying for.
posted by localroger at 1:01 PM on April 26 [4 favorites]


Here's a rather more in-depth piece of reporting on the Tower. It's not quite the unmitigatedly happy story the FPP piece suggests.

On Venezuela, The New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson Fails at Arithmetic - "As the magazine’s correspondent for Venezuela and author of a January piece on the country that stretched to over 10,000 words, Anderson was the subject of withering ridicule. Jim Naureckas of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting wrote that Anderson’s article appeared 'almost like a parody of corporate media coverage of an official enemy state.' Economist Mark Weisbrot similarly noted that Anderson wasn’t 'letting commonly agreed-upon facts and numbers get in the way' of his plodding diatribe against Chávez's failures."
posted by jammy at 3:25 PM on April 26 [4 favorites]


In the US the cops would have cleared it out on general principles, it being better to make homeless people freeze and starve than to let them use property they're not paying for.

Yes, they would have cleared it out on general principle. General principle of code violations and public safety.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:03 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


>Water is a more interesting question for me.

That and waste - probably enough of the plumbing was in place already when construction stopped, I don't think it could be made to work otherwise.


Water needs to go up. Waste will come down, one way or another.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:40 PM on April 26


That New Yorker article is pretty bad.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:05 PM on April 26


I came here to post hippybear's Previously. (N.b.: flapjax said "wow" that time too.)

Wow.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:20 PM on April 26 [4 favorites]


This is all without even considering the sheer terror that comes from seeing that it's being actively dismantled while people are living there.

Why shouldn't they take out apart for the steel? It's nit life anybody owns it. Some people get free living space, others get free steel. Everybody wins!
posted by happyroach at 7:01 PM on April 26


I came here to show solidarity with those who say "wow."

Wow.
posted by homunculus at 1:11 AM on April 27 [2 favorites]


I wonder how much of a fire hazard that place is.
posted by ceribus peribus at 2:55 AM on April 27


Yeah, all these people could sleep on sidewalks built to code, and cook under bridges where there is no fire hazard.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 7:25 AM on April 27 [4 favorites]


On Venezuela, The New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson Fails at Arithmetic -

They're criticizing the piece for its overall background descriptions of Venezuela; they're not criticizing his specific reporting on the Tower, which is the subject of the FPP.

The criticism of the portrait of Venezuela is pretty hilarious, by the way: "how DARE you say that Venezuela has the worst murder rate in Latin America!!! It's the third worst! We're number three! We're number three! We're number three!"

I mean, sure, that's a mistake worth correcting in small print in some future edition, but getting into such a lather about something that is really of no consequence whatsoever (Venezuela has a very, very high murder rate and that's a bad thing, either way) betrays a deeply partisan engagement with the subject.
posted by yoink at 7:30 AM on April 27 [1 favorite]


homunculus: "I came here to show solidarity with those who say "wow."

Wow.
"

Anybody else really really really getting tired of this Doge thing"?
posted by symbioid at 7:48 AM on April 27


Get along little Doge.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:23 AM on April 27 [1 favorite]


Look, Doroteo Arango II, I don't care whether it's the Tower of David, a favela in Rio, or the ghetto in Chicago. This tower being inhabited the way it is represents a failure of the society that it is in to provide sufficient and safe housing for its people. That is not a criticism of the people who are living there.

Yes, building codes raise the cost of housing much the way that minimum wages raise the cost of labor or safety regulations raise the cost of imported goods or food. There's no getting around that. It's highlighting a problem that needs to be solved. One can complain about gentrification or whatnot all one wants, but people living in firetraps with fall hazards deserve better.
posted by dhartung at 10:16 AM on April 27


People deserve better, but when they can't have anything better, this is better than living on the street.

Dystopian, yes. It's coming folks.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:48 PM on April 27


I wonder how much of a fire hazard that place is.

Probably not as much as a finished building. Bare concrete and steel don't burn too well.

Yes, they would have cleared it out on general principle. General principle of code violations and public safety.

Of course this is the excuse they would use. Anyone familiar with what passes for standard construction practice in Latin America would howl with laughter at the suggestion that it is anything but hatred for the poor though.
posted by localroger at 3:00 PM on April 27


I mean, sure, that's a mistake worth correcting in small print in some future edition, but getting into such a lather about something that is really of no consequence whatsoever

It's evidence that the reporting is either sloppy, or actively deceptive, when the reporting is wrong about something easy to check, and it's in service of their narrative (vs something like the spelling of a name).

This isn't a daily newspaper. They have months to get these things right.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:09 AM on April 28 [1 favorite]


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