Jorge Romero Gutiérrez / Dirk Bornhorst / Pedro Neuberger: El Helicoide de la Roca Tarpeya, 1955D–1961

  • Caracas, Venezuela, Show on map
  • #COM #EdgeCase #Stepped #RescueCampaign #Latin America
  • “El Helicoide de la Roca Tarpeya” in Caracas, Venezuela, would have been a spiral drive-in mall. Built between 1956 and 1960, El Helicoide's construction flattened the hill “La Roca Tarpeya” into seven gradually decreasing terraces, surrounded by a two-mile long vehicular double-helix that allowed drivers to park right in front of their business of choice. With a state-of-the-art mall with futuristic design, Austrian custom-made elevators and a radio station, El Helicoide would have featured over a hundred high-end boutiques, a hotel, cinemas, exhibition halls and a heliport. (Special thanks to Proyecto Helicoide).

  • El Helicoide's construction stopped one year short of completion due to financial and political issues. The building was abandoned for over twenty years while its owners fought (and eventually lost) the Venezuelan State over legal issues. It was subsequently squatted (10,000 people between 1979 and 1982) and several governmental administrations attempted to recover it for public use, but the plans consistently failed. Starting in 1985, El Helicoide was occupied by the national intelligence police (then DISIP, now SEBIN), followed in 2003 by police and military-training colleges. It currently houses political prisoners, is semi-abandoned and partially surrounded by slums. The rescue campaign Proyecto Helicoide currently tries to save the building.

    A book on El Helicoide, Downward Spiral: El Helicoide's Descent from Mall to Prison,  was recently published.