Tower of David: the World’s Tallest Slum | Via

The Tower of David is an abandoned unfinished skyscraper in the center of Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela, that is now home to more than 3,000 squatters, who have turned the 45-story skyscraper into the world’s tallest slum.

Construction of the building, originally called “Centro Financiero Confinanzas” and nicknamed the “Tower of David”, after its developer, David Brillembourg, was started in 1990 and was to become a symbol of Caracas’ bright financial future. It is the third highest skyscraper in the country. But a banking crisis brought those plans to an abrupt halt in 1994. The government took control over the building and construction was never completed. The building has no elevators, no installed electricity or running water, no balcony railing and windows and even walls in many places.

In 2007, a group of squatters took over the building, and it quickly gained notoriety as a hotbed of crime and drugs. Despite this, residents have managed to build a comfortable and self sustaining community complete with basic utility services such as electricity and water that reaches all the way up to the 22nd floor. Lifts being absent, residents can use motorcycles to travel up and down the first 10 floors, but must use the stairs for the remaining levels.  Inside the building’s long hallways there are warehouses, clothing stores, beauty parlours, a dentist and day-care centers. Some residents even have cars, parked inside of the building’s parking garage. Some seven hundred families comprising over 3,000 residents live in the tower today.



Säynätsalo Town Hall, Finland. Alvar Aalto. 1949-1952. Via [1] [2]

While I agree that Säynätsalo town hall is a wonderful building, a significant part of its charm comes simply from its incredibly small scale. In this context, it is interesting to note that the commune of Säynätsalo ceased to exist as a political entity in 2009 1993, when it was annexed to the city of Jyväskylä (134,000 inhabitants). Thus, what we are admiring is an empty shell that has been robbed of its political function.

Säynätsalo town hall continues to be fetishised as an architectural achievement to be emulated, even though the institutional structures that prompted its creation - Finland’s local government that was composed of small independent communities of a few thousand inhabitants - have been dismantled in pursuit of efficiency and global competitiveness.


Shopping Malls from the Dawn of Consumerism | Via

Nowadays, shopping malls are seldom considered masterpieces. But that was completely different at the turn of the 19th century—a time when the department store was a pinnacle of high style and technology.