SLUM Lab: Sustainable Living Urban Model

Research Labs + Centers

Fall 2012 + Spring 2013

Alfredo Brillembourg + Hubert Klumpner, directors

A unique lab that works as a nomadic enterprise; bringing planners, architects and students from all areas of the globe to converge and to work towards an understanding of the link between urban planning and poverty alleviation. SLUM Lab hopes to stage an exploration of the intersection between social/political and environmental activism to come up with the notion of a collective territory, and also a territory of collaboration that transgresses hemispheric boundaries.

The field of operation is a fragile eco system and economy devoid of any architects. The slum is the home to inhabitants who have taken it upon themselves to build their own community and create a society almost completely segregated by the greater metropolitan area. Despite a sense of affiliation of belonging to this community, because of the lack of space the slum is a highly volatile place, brought on by the high density of people packed on top of one another and the lack of a secure system of security.

The SLUM Lab’s newest publication, “Torre David: Informal Vertical Communities” highlights Torre David, a 45-story office tower in Caracas designed by the distinguished Venezuelan architect Enrique Gómez, was almost complete when it was abandoned following the death of its developer, David Brillembourg, in 1993 and the collapse of the Venezuelan economy in 1994. Today, it is the improvised home of a community of more than 750 families, living in an extra-legal and tenuous occupation that some have called a vertical slum.

Where some only see a failed development project, U-TT has conceived it as a laboratory for the study of informal vertical communities. In their exhibit at the 13th Biennale of Architecture in Venice and in their forthcoming book, “Torre David: Informal Vertical Communities,” the architects lay out their vision for practical, sustainable interventions in Torre David and similar informal settlements around the world. They argued that the future of urban development lay in collaboration among architects, private enterprise and the global population of slum-dwellers. U-TT issues a call to arms to their fellow architects to see in the informal settlements of the world a potential for innovation and experimentation, with the goal of putting design in the service of a more equitable and sustainable future.

Torre David A
Urban React Lab B