Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master in Interior Architecture


Interior Architecture

First Advisor

Markus Berger

Second Advisor

Heinrich Hermann

Third Advisor

Liliane Wong


Why should the poor be forced to live in slums on the periphery of the city when there are empty high-rises in the center? Housing scarcity and densification are increasing challenges in cities as a consequence of urbanization and displacement of communities. By performing a study on informal settlements in the city of Caracas, acknowledging both their strengths and weaknesses, this thesis explores vertical communities and the potential to convert unused high-rise buildings into accessible housing solutions. The Tower of David is both a precedent and the host structure for this thesis, which aims to analyze how collective effort and lack of essential needs were harnessed to transform this unplanned site into a new model of urban living that can be viewed as a prototype to be repeated throughout the world.

Central to this thesis is the empowerment of residents, providing them with the tools to become their own developers, designers and builders. In order to build a strong community environment, the intervention will encourage the involvement of middle-income families, as well as lower income residents. The focus will be on the community as a collective and the users as individuals, with the main goal to ultimately produce solutions that are sustainable, flexible and adaptable. The three design strategies included are: 1) the creation of hydroponic farms, 2) a new residential living model developed by and for residents, and 3) a vertical circulation system incorporating public spaces to connect the residents with the community at large.

Public spaces are the main organizing element, arranged into a continuous sequence vertically through the tower. Traditionally in informal communities, the street is the center of public life and commerce; in this thesis, the street is reimagined as a central ramp and staircase system whereby such activities take place. Like urban planners design the city, the Tower will then become a vertical city in itself.



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