The Tower of David is a 640-foot-tall skyscraper in downtown Caracas, Venezuela. The tower’s construction began in 1990, but in 1994, when the building was only 60% complete, construction halted while Venezuela suffered an economic crisis. In 2007, construction resumed, but not by the original developers—1,300 illegal inhabitants moved into the tower, transforming it into one of the largest squats in the world. After watching what he calls a “very bad” documentary about the tower, Caracas-born photographer Alejandro Cegarra decided to investigate the tower with his camera. “[The documentary] never talks about the people,” he told PDN via email. “They are everything that matters in these kind of places, so I went and literally knocked on the door and asked to talk with somebody. It took courage to do it because Caracas is really dangerous, and especially in places where people are not supposed to live.” Now, he says, many of the illegal residents of the tower have been evicted and relocated to new government-owned housing developments.
Cegerra, 24, was recently awarded the 2014 Ian Parry Scholarship for his project, “The Other Side of the Tower.” With the scholarship, he plans to develop his project about the violence in Venezuela. “I need the time to get access and involve myself inside that world… and [to] document the economic and the health system crisis.” Cegerra also plans to travel to and work in Kenya, to “push my limits a little further,” he says.