This 45-storey skyscraper boasts a helicopter landing pad, glorious views of the Avila mountain range, and large balconies for weekend barbecues. But the building in Caracas is no five-star hotel or upmarket apartment block. It is a slum; probably the tallest in the world.

Construction of the tower, which was intended to be a gleaming financial office complex, began in 1990. Building ground to a halt in 1994 due to Venezuela’s banking crisis and the death of its developer – financier and horse-breeder David Brillembourg. The building is now nicknamed “The Tower of David” after him.

Squatters began occupying the unfinished building in 2007, and today about 3,000 people call the tower their home.

Here are some photos.

slum1
Looking down onto the lobby of the Tower of David
slum2
The skyscraper known as the “Tower of David” is seen in Caracas

slum3
Gabriel Rivas, 30, lifts weights on a balcony on the 28th floor

slum4
Children play in the lobby of the “Tower of David” skyscraper in Caracas

slum5
Francisco, 18, cooks in the kitchen of his apartment

slum6
People walk along a corridor on the 10th floor

slum7
Children play in the corridors at the Tower of David

slum8
Teenagers chat on the 10th floor of the skyscraper

slum9
A woman walks across a roof around the atrium

 

 

 

 

Residents see the tower as a safe haven from the city’s sprawling, dangerous slums, such as Petare. Caracas has one of the world’s highest annual murder rates, with 122 homicides per 100,000 people.

 

“There is far more order and far less crime in here than out there,” 27th floor resident Thais Ruiz, 36, told Reuters. “I never lived in an apartment before. We’re so comfortable now. We had to get out of Petare and the daily gang shootouts. Once we found a dead body on our doorstep. Now look, we can leave the door wide open.”

 

The building was featured an episode of US TV drama Homeland. In an episode called “The Tower of David”, Nicholas Brody was held captive and watched in horror as a gang tossed a thief off the skyscraper.

slum10
A woman who runs a shop inside the building looks out from behind a barred service window

slum11

 

IbTimes.co.uk