The New York Times reports on the appropriation of an unfinished building in Caracas by squatters. It has more in common with opportunistic slums than the politically minded squats that make news in Europe, in that it’s a isocosm for the outside. In addition to the poor and jobless, bankers make do in an economy that isn’t helping any income bracket.

Once one of Latin America’s most developed cities, Caracas now grapples with an acute housing shortage of about 400,000 units, breeding building invasions. In the area around the Tower of David, squatters have occupied 20 other properties, including the Viasa and Radio Continente towers. White elephants occupying the cityscape, like the Sambil shopping mall close to the Tower of David and seized by the government, now house flood victims.

This heterogenous mix of lives is spread over a limited vertical circulation, that than the interconnected mat of housing and streets and sewers. It’s actually a bit like the linear city or the city-building, the Unité. Particularly in its provision of upper-level bodegas:

A beauty salon operates on one floor. On another, an unlicensed dentist applies the brightly coloured braces that are the rage in Caracas street fashion. Nearly every floor has a small bodega.

…without the designer.

Forest Glen Seminary: An Unintentional Project

So, it’s been a while, right? Well sometimes you get stuck and you just have to back away from the block. If you’ve fortgotten the previous installments, they’re here, and here. One more will follow in about a week. Alright.


But from the enormous source material of the existing buildings, the Alexander Company took what opportunities it had and exploited them into a quiet celebration of the specific context. The original buildings, despite their conversion to a warren of private apartments and condominiums, have kept of their idiosyncrasies. In spite of sparkling new halogen lights and granite countertops, the apartments retain the unique elements that make the buildings meaningful to residents.