TORRE DAVID - Informal Vertical Communities

ETH Department of Architecture and Urban Design / Zurich
Alfredo Brillembourg & Hubert Klumpner, Urban-Think Tank / Caracas

July 12 - August 29, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013, 7:00PM

Speaking at the opening:
Dr. h.c. Kristin Feireiss, Aedes Berlin
Dr. Paul Friedli, Schindler Management AG
Prof. Alfredo Brillembourg, ETH Zurich
Prof. Hubert Klumpner, ETH Zurich


Aedes Cooperation Partners


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The exhibition "TORRE DAVID - Informal Vertical Communities" is an adaption and evolution of the installation on Torre David that was presented at the 2012 Biennale di Venezia, where it was awarded the Golden Lion. At Aedes Berlin, the Torre David project will be presented in an extended format and will include new research on the intersection between verticality and informal communities.

Torre David is a 45-story office building in Caracas, Venezuela. As one of South America’s tallest skyscrapers, it is unique in its lack of elevators. Almost completed, it was abandoned following the death of its developer and the collapse of the Venezuelan economy in 1994. Today, it is a squat of more than 750 families living in an extra-legal and tenuous occupation that some call a vertical slum.

Alfredo Brillembourg & Hubert Klumpner, professors at the ETH Zurich, along with their research and design teams at Urban-Think Tank, the photographer Iwan Baan, and the SuAT Group, spent a year and a half studying the physical and social organization of this ruin-turned-home. Where some only see a failed development project, they have conceived of it as a laboratory for the study of the informal. With the support of the Schindler Group, the research team also explored innovative design solutions to address new modes of vertical mobility. Building upon this work, this exhibition presents novel proposals on how existing structures in today’s cities, such as parking garages, can be retrofitted and transformed to meet urgent needs such as a lack of housing and recreational space.

The exhibition lays out a vision for practical, sustainable interventions in Torre David and similar informal settlements around the world. It argues that the future of urban development lies in collaboration among architects, private enterprise, and the global population of slum-dwellers. Brillembourg and Klumpner issue a call to arms to fellow architects: to see in the informal settlements of the world a potential for innovation and experimentation, with the goal of using design in the service of a more equitable and sustainable future.

Working in the global context of informality, Brillembourg and Klumpner focus on developing strategies to transform cities into more productive and inclusive environments, and on training a new generation of designers to improve cities in the 21st century. Since 2010 they have held the Chair of Architecture and Urban Design at the ETH Zurich. They are also co-principals of Urban-Think Tank (U-TT), an interdisciplinary design practice dedicated to delivering innovative yet practical solutions through the combined skills of architects, civil engineers, environmental planners, landscape architects, and artists.

The accompanying book "Torre David - Informal Vertical Communities" is published by Lars Müller Publishers. Photos by Iwan Baan.

On the occasion of two Aedes exhibition openings we cordially invite you to the public debate at ANCB:

Bogotá - Caracas: Bottom-Up Urbanism to Design the City of the Future
and to the book launch:
São Paulo - Paraisopolis. Order and Progress?

Time: Friday 12 July, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Place: ANCB, Christinenstr.18/19, 10119 Berlin

On the occasion of two Aedes exhibition openings Downtown Bogota // My Ideal City by Archi-Tectonics / Winka Dubbeldam and Rodrigo Nino, Prodigy Network, New York / Bogota as well as Torre David by Urban Think-Tank / Hubert Klumpner & Alfredo Brillembourg, the protagonists will discuss bottom-up strategies for urban design and planning,

focusing on the fast growing cities of Latin and South America.

The publication São Paulo - Paraisopolis. Order and Progress? follows up on the first iteration of the Re-act Lab programme at ANCB and presents essays and project proposals concerned with the design of the informal city. It will be presented by Elisabete França, former Director of Social Housing at the Municipality of São Paulo.


Hans-Jürgen Commerell, Director, ANCB The Metropolitan Laboratory, Berlin

Matthias Böttger
, Raumtaktik, Berlin

Panel 1

Winka Dubbledam, Archi-Tectonics, New York
Rodrigo Nino, Prodigy Network, New York / Bogota

Panel 2
TORRE DAVID - Informal Vertical Communities
Hubert Klumpner, ETH Zurich / Urban Think-Tank, Caracas
Alfredo Brillembourg, ETH Zurich / Urban Think-Tank, Caracas

Book launch
São Paulo - Paraisopolis. Order and Progress?

Elisabete França, former Director of Social Housing at the Municipality of São Paulo

Admission is free.


An Aedes catalogue was published.
With a text by Alfredo Brillembourg and Humbert Klumpner
ISBN  978-3-943615-13-5
Price € 10,-