Caracas: The Latest Architecture and News
Almost seven kilometers from the green of Uhuru Park in central Nairobi, lies the informal settlement of Kibera. It is an area whose urban character consists of corrugated iron roofs, mud walls, and a complicated network of utility poles. Kibera, at this point in time, is a well-known place. Much has been written and researched on this “city within a city,” from its infrastructural issues to its navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cities are growing, and they are growing upwards. This is far from just being a contemporary phenomenon of course – for more than a century, high-rises have been an integral part of urban settlements worldwide. This growing of cities encompasses a complex web of processes – advancements in transport links, urbanisation, and migration to mention a few. This growth of cities, however, is all too often linked with governmental failure to adequately support all facets of the urban population. Informal settlements are then born – people carving out spaces for themselves to live amidst a lack of state support.
Through a visual survey, architect and photographer Ramón Paolini explores the evolution of Caracas (Venezuela). The photographs capture the capital's transformation throughout the past forty years, giving viewers an in depth look at one of Latin America's most tumultuous regions, its urban development, and the socio-political aspects behind it. Most importantly, Paolini illustrates his personal vision for this urban space that builds, destroys, and rebuilds with an astounding tenacity.
The last five stories of the Torre de David in Caracas have tilted 25 degrees following the largest earthquake to hit Venezuela in 100 years. The well-known building gained infamy as an unprecedented vertical "slum" when its construction was abandoned and squatters began to inhabit the unfinished structure.
The 190-meter skyscraper with 45 stories became Latin America's 8th tallest tower in the 1990s, but it was never completed. Officially known as the Centro Financiero Confinanzas when construction began in 1990, the project succumbed to Venezuela's 1994 banking crisis.
The downtown skyline of a city is perhaps its most symbolic feature. The iconic cityscapes that we know and love are typically formed by skyscrapers, but much of the surrounding context is made up of other high-rise buildings. Yes, there is a difference between a skyscraper and a high-rise. Research company Emporis defines a high-rise as a building at least 35 meters (115 feet) or 12 stories tall. These high-rise buildings play a major role in the more sprawled urban context of larger cities today.
Read on for Emporis' list of the 20 cities in the world with the most high-rises. You might be surprised by which cities made the cut.
In 1994, after the death of its main investor and a national banking crisis that left Venezuela's economy stagnated, the construction of Caracas' Centro Financiero Confinanzas - known popularly as the Tower of David - was paralyzed, leaving the building completely abandoned and on 70 percent complete.
Neglected for more than a decade, the 45-story, 190-meter-tall skyscraper became the makeshift home for a community of more than 800 families, becoming the world's tallest "vertically organized favela," with basic services to the 22nd floor and including even barber shops, kindergartens and dentists.
The documentary Torre David (now available to watch in full for a small fee of $3) was filmed by Urban-Think Tank, presenting the particular life of its residents before the tower was evacuated in 2014. The film is part of a larger research project that has led to new a book and numerous exhibitions, including the exhibition winner of the Golden Lion at the 2012 Venice Biennale.
Between Sunday, May 17 and Monday, May 18 projects developed under the second phase of Espacios de Paz (Spaces of Peace) were inaugurated in five cities across Venezuela. A genuine exercise in participative design, 20 Latin American architecture groups worked for five weeks with communities in neighborhoods dominated by violence, high dropout rates and crime to convert deteriorated and abandoned spaces into public places of peace.
For each project, four groups of young architects worked together to carry out a process of dialogue, research, design, and ultimately the construction of either an athletic, social or educational facility to be administrated by the local community. Espacios de Paz is coordinated by the local office of PICO Estudio, with guidance from public institutions and under the leadership of Isis Ochoa, the High Presidential Commissioner for Peace and Life.
ArchDaily en Español Editors, Nicolás Valencia M. and José Tomás Franco, were invited by PICO Estudio to document and view the five projects in their final phase of construction and speak with the architects and community representatives about the development of the projects and some of the challenges faced in the process.
Learn more about each of the five projects after the break.
With Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in attendance, Frank Gehry presented the model for the future National Center for Social Action Through Music building in Lara state. The project is Gehry’s second in Latin America, following the recently inaugurated Biomuseo in Panamá.
To be located in Barquisimeto, Venezuela’s fourth most populated city, the National Center for Social Action Through Music forms part of the National Network of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs of Venezuela, more commonly known as “El Sistema.” Founded in 1975 by orchestra director José Antonio Abreu, El Sistema is now funded by the government and provides musical training and education for children from impoverished backgrounds. The Adjkm-designed Simon Bolivar Complex for Social Action is also part of El Sistema.
Learn more about the project after the break.
In 2011, adjkm won an international competition to design the Simon Bolivar Complex for Social Action through Music (CASMSB - Complejo de Acción Social por la Música Simón Bolívar) in Caracas. Now, almost four years later, the Venezuelan practice has released their updated design for the “Caracas Symphony” in preparation for its groundbreaking at the end of this year.
The building is being constructed for the El Sistema project, an internationally distinguished program based on the premise that musical training can create great musicians and completely alter the expected life paths of children born into extremely impoverished circumstance.
Monday night began the relocation process of thousands of inhabitants living in Venezuela’s Torre de David (Tower of David), the world’s tallest slum, according to reports by Venezuelan newspaper Últimas Noticias, BBC Mundo and tweets from journalists following the coverage. The relocation initiative is being carried out by the Interior and Justice Ministry, and comes just five days after the announcement that the Venezuelan government is in negotiations with Chinese banks interested in purchasing the building.
Torre de David (the Tower of David) - the world's tallest slum and the subject of Urban-Think Tank, Justin McGuirk, and Iwan Baan's Golden Lion-winning Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2012 - is once again making headlines. Venezuelan newspaper TalCual reports that the Venezuelan government is in negotiations with Chinese banks interested in purchasing the building.
Tower of David is an unfinished financial skyscraper in downtown Caracas. Construction began on the tower in 1990, but the death of the principal investor in 1993 and the subsequent banking crisis that hit the country in 1994 froze construction; by the end of the year, the tower was in the hands of the state. Nevertheless, in 2007 two thousand homeless citizens took over and inhabited the skyscraper, making it the tallest vertical slum in the world.
Although construction was never completed, "El Helicoide" ("The Helix") in Caracas is one of the most important relics of the Modern movement in Venezuela. The 73,000 square meter project - designed in 1955 by Jorge Romero Gutiérrez, Peter Neuberger and Dirk Bornhorst - takes the form of a double spiral topped by a large geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller. It was characterized by a series of ascending and descending ramps meant to carry visitors to its variety of programmatic spaces - including 320 shops, a 5 star hotel, offices, a playground, a television studio and a space for events and conventions.
Today, Proyecto Helicoide (Project Helix) seeks to rescue the urban history and memory of the building through a series of exhibitions, publications and educational activities. More details on the initiative, after the break.
Following our recent news that confirmed Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) will oversee the design and construction of two new stadiums within Caracas' Hugo Chavez Park, details have emerged regarding the Estadio Nacional de Fútbol de Venezuela. Designed by RSHP, in collaboration with Arup and Schlaich Bergermann und Partners, the project will be the practice’s first ever football stadium.