TORRE DAVID // GRAN HORIZONTE
2012 // enice, Italy
* Awarded the 2012 Golden Lion
// Project Manager
Chair of Architecture and Urban Design, ETH Zürich
Urban-Think Tank was awarded the Golden Lion for the Best Project of the Common Ground Exhibition at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. The exhibit, “Torre David / Gran Horizonte,” was produced in collaboration with Justin McGuirk (curator) and Iwan Baan (photographer).
In the spirit of the Biennale’s theme, Common Ground, the installation took the form of a Venezuelan arepa restaurant, creating a genuinely social space rather than a didactic exhibition space. According to an official statement from la Biennale di Venezia: “[t]he jury praised the architects for recognizing the power of this transformational project. An informal community created a new home and a new identity by occupying Torre David and did so with flair and conviction. This initiative can be seen as an inspirational model acknowledging the strength of informal societies.”
Torre David, a 45-story office tower in Caracas designed by the distinguished Venezuelan architect Enrique Gómez, was almost complete when it was abandoned following the death of its developer, David Brillembourg, in 1993 and the collapse of the Venezuelan economy in 1994. Today, it is the improvised home of a community of more than 750 families, living in an extra-legal and tenuous occupation that some have called a vertical slum.
Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner, along with their research and design teams at Urban-Think Tank and ETH Zürich, spent a year studying the physical and social organization of this ruin-turned-home. Where some only see a failed development project, U-TT has conceived it as a laboratory for the study of the informal. With the support of the Schindler Group, U-TT also explored innovative design solutions to address new modes of vertical mobility. In their “Torre David / Grand Horizonte” exhibit and in their book, Torre David: Informal Vertical Communities, the architects lay out their vision for practical, sustainable interventions in Torre David and similar informal settlements around the world. They argue that the future of urban development lies in collaboration among architects, private enterprise, and the global population of slum-dwellers. Urban -Think Tank issues a call to arms to their fellow architects to see in the informal settlements of the world a potential for innovation and experimentation, with the goal of putting design in the service of a more equitable and sustainable future.
rban Think-Tank: Alfredo Brillembourg & Hubert Klumpner, with Justin McGuirk (Curator)
Project Manager: Michael Contento
esearch Team: Susana Garcia, Kaspar Helfrich, Rafael Machado, Ilana Millner, Jose Antonio Nuñez, Mathieu Quilici, Daniel Schwartz, Frederic Schwarz, Lindsey Sherman, Alexandra Zervudachi
Collaborators: Iwan Baan (Photography), Lars Müller Publisher
Special Thanks: The residents of Torre David, Jimeno Fonseca (ITA, ETH), Yona Friedman, Paul Friedli (Schindler AG), Antonio Garces, Marva Griffin, Andres Lepik, Sacha Menz (Dean, ETH Zürich, DARCH), Vivian Pedroni, Arno Schlueter (ITA, ETH), Christian Schmid, Kilian Schuster (Schindler AG), Katrin Trautwein, Klaus Nadler