Caracas, Venezuela: The building was intended to be a shining new financial center but was abandoned around 1994 after the death of its developer and the collapse of the financial sector. Squatters invaded the huge concrete skeleton in 2007 and now about 3,000 people call the tower their home.
The first time I tried to get access to the tower wasn’t really a success. I was told, not in the friendliest of terms, that I should leave while I still could. The residents of the tower, and particularly those in charge of managing it, were (and still are) very sensitive to media. Publications frequently feature headlines such as: ‘Tower of terror,’ ‘The shanty skyscraper,’ it has even been featured in an episode of the TV series ‘Homeland’ as a kidnappers’ den.
My intention wasn’t to follow on from these headlines. I wanted above all to create a portrait of the lives of the thousands of people who call this place home, and who face struggles and risks every day. I wanted to document without judging. That is what I told the squatters’ board of administrators, who made me explain my intentions in producing this story. I felt the strong sense of community here from the first time I ascended the tower.
Men rest after salvaging metal on the 30th floor of the “Tower of David” skyscraper in Caracas, February 3, 2014.