The unfinished Torre de Confianzas commercial office tower in Caracas, now occupied by squatters, about which I posted a pictorial post last year (“The Surreal Becomes Even More Strange – June 30th, 2011”), has won a international prize this year for architecture. Earlier, the Spanish language BBC did an excellent reportage describing how the squatters adapt to living 300 ft. up in concrete tower with no outside walls, no water, sewer, or electricity; no elevators. For those with nowhere else to go it is free shelter, and safer than living in the slums surrounding the city. It can be viewed at the below link.
The government did nothing to stop the squatters. However, they did allow an exhibit of this building, which they called the “Great Horizons Tower of David”, to be shown as their country’s best example of innovative architecture at the Venice Biennial Architectural Exhibition. And, then surprisingly, it was awarded the golden lion prize as 2012’s best exhibit, “demonstrating how an unplanned piece of city can work as well as one made by architects”, according to the London Guardian.
Chavez opponents are enraged by the prize, asking angrily how the architects would like it if the second prize (a green building in Amsterdam) were suddenly taken over by squatters, and then the Dutch government did nothing.
One of the judges, an unnamed architect from a developed European democracy, actually had the nerve to say at a press conference, “how this occupation occurred doesn’t concern us” as architect and journalist Graziano Gasparini reported shortly afterward. He reminded the conference judges that the Tower of David, “was not a project, but a cynical piece of marketing by those looking to better themselves at the expense of the misery of others.” Marketing from a county “where the wealthy government promises but then does nothing for its citizens”; mocking them in the conference rooms of Venice. Meanwhile back in Caracas, the poor endure hardship, danger and chaos, living in an unfinished skyscraper.