Following yesterday's news story about the forced eviction of the thousands of inhabitants living in Venezuela’s Torre de David (Tower of David), the world's tallest vertical slum, Urban-Think Tank has issued a statement. The group, which spent two years researching the remarkable urban space for their Golden Lion-winning Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2012, has spoken with residents and hopes to provoke the architectural/design communities by adding their voice to the debate. Read the full statement, after the break. THE FUTURE OF TORRE DAVID We at U-TT have been closely following recent news coverage regarding Torre David's redevelopment. As reported in both local and international press, the Venezuelan government has struck an agreement with Chinese investors to restore the complex of buildings to their original purposes - a commercial center and office tower. With surprising speed, the government initiated the eviction process of residents two days ago and have declared their intention to relocate all 1,200 families to a new social housing project by September.From 2011-2012, our research and design team was heavily engaged in Torre David. We saw it as a misunderstood and important place within the physical and social geography of not just Caracas or Venezuela, but Latin America and perhaps even the urban planet as a whole.When dealing with informal settlements, infusions of money for major public works and other approaches that involve large-scale rapid change - such as the razing of slums and relocation of poor populations - have generally failed in the complex setting of the city. The commercial housing market simply does not supply enough homes. There are too few units of social housing, and the majority of these are far beyond the reach of low-income families. The dire asymmetries of capital in the global south do little to help; yet various forms of structural neglect have not always diminished great entrepreneurial vigor. Shunned by governments and the formal private sector, city dwellers, like those in Torre David, have devised and employed tactics to improvise shelter and housing.
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