Iwan Baan on “architecture without architects”

In a movie Dezeen filmed at his Golden Lion-winning installation in collaboration with Justin McGuirk and Urban-Think Tank at the Venice Architecture Biennale, architectural photographer Iwan Baan talks about how residents have built their own homes between the columns and floor plates of the unfinished Torre David skyscraper in Caracas.

“It’s basically a whole city they built in there,” he says while describing the homes, shops, church, hair salon and gym the 3000 residents have created, each inventing their own construction techniques to create “a sort of architecture without architects”.

He tells how residents start by putting up curtains and tents, then build walls when they get chance, creating a patchwork facade where “every person decorates their place in their own way.” Construction halted before services were installed, including elevators, so taxis drive residents up and down in an adjoining 50-storey car park.

Baan’s photographs will be published in a book on the tower called Torre David: Anarcho Vertical Communities, written by Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner of Urban-Think Tank.

Critic Justin McGuirk talks about how the project could set an example for new forms of urban housing in our earlier movie, asking “why should the majority of the poor in countries like Venezuela be forced to live in the slums around the edge of cities if there are empty office towers in the city centres?”