Curator Justin McGuirk tells us why his Golden Lion-winning installation about a community living in a vertical slum in Caracas could set an example for new forms of urban housing, in this movie we filmed at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
"Why should the majority of the poor in countries like Venezuela be forced to live in the slums around the edge of cities if there are empty office towers in the city centres?," he says.
McGuirk teamed up with architects Urban-Think Tank and photographer Iwan Bann to create the Torre David/Gran Horizonte exhibition and restaurant, which presents the findings of a year-long research project.
The 45-storey Torre David skyscraper was designed for a financial organisation in the 1990s, but construction was abandoned following the the death of the developer and squatters began moving in. The building is now home to around 3000 residents, who have adapted the concrete shell by partitioning off rooms to suit their needs.
"When you look inside you will find that the apartments are actually like any middle class apartments in the world," said Urban-Think Tank founder Alfredo Brillembourg at the preview on Monday. "So this is not a slum; the slum is in your head."
Photographs by Iwan Bann displayed in the Arsenale exhibition show how businesses and groups also occupy the building, including factories, hairdressers a gym and even a church. "We’ve mapped how people have built a whole infrastructure and city themselves," said Baan.
The pop-up Venezuelan restaurant brings a flavour of Caracas to the exhibition, illustrating the team's belief that "sharing a meal is the best way to establish common ground for a discussion."
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