This 45-storey skyscraper boasts a helicopter landing pad, glorious views of the Avila mountain range, and large balconies for weekend barbecues. But the building in Caracas is no five-star hotel or upmarket apartment block. It is a slum; probably the tallest in the world.

atrium night
Looking down onto the lobby of the Tower of DavidJorge Silva/Reuters

Construction of the tower, which was intended to be a gleaming financial office complex, began in 1990. Building ground to a halt in 1994 due to Venezuela's banking crisis and the death of its developer - financier and horse-breeder David Brillembourg. The building is now nicknamed "The Tower of David" after him.

Squatters began occupying the unfinished building in 2007, and today about 3,000 people call the tower their home.

The skyscraper known as the "Tower of David" is seen in CaracasJorge Silva/Reuters
Gabriel Rivas, 30, lifts weights on a balcony on the 28th floorJorge Silva/Reuters
Children play in the lobby of the
Children play in the lobby of the "Tower of David" skyscraper in CaracasJorge Silva/Reuters
boy kitchen
Francisco, 18, cooks in the kitchen of his apartmentJorge Silva/Reuters

Work was sufficiently advanced by the time construction halted for the first 28 floors to be habitable, though the squatters have had to brick up dangerous open spaces, and put in their own basic plumbing, electrical and water systems. Running water reaches only the fifth floor, forcing those above to carry water by hand.

There are no lifts; residents can use motorcycles to travel up and down the first 10 floors, but must use the stairs for the remaining levels.

People walk along a corridor on the 10th floorJorge Silva/Reuters
Children play in the corridors at the Tower of DavidJorge Silva/Reuters
Teenagers chat on the 10th floor of the skyscraperJorge Silva/Reuters
atrium woman
A woman walks across a roof around the atriumJorge Silva/Reuters

Residents see the tower as a safe haven from the city's sprawling, dangerous slums, such as Petare. Caracas has one of the world's highest annual murder rates, with 122 homicides per 100,000 people.

"There is far more order and far less crime in here than out there," 27th floor resident Thais Ruiz, 36, told Reuters. "I never lived in an apartment before. We're so comfortable now. We had to get out of Petare and the daily gang shootouts. Once we found a dead body on our doorstep. Now look, we can leave the door wide open."

The building was featured an episode of US TV drama Homeland. In an episode called "The Tower of David", Nicholas Brody was held captive and watched in horror as a gang tossed a thief off the skyscraper.

Thais Ruiz, 36, chats on the telephone under a crack in the roof of her living room on the 27th floorJorge Silva/Reuters
A woman who runs a shop inside the building looks out from behind a barred service windowJorge Silva/Reuters
A girl rides a bicycle on a large balconyJorge Silva/Reuters
A woman uses her mobile phone during a blackout at the skyscraperJorge Silva/Reuters
Maria works in a sewing workshop in her apartmentJorge Silva/Reuters
Paola Medina, 29, prepares to leave her apartment after living in the Tower of David for almost a yearJorge Silva/Reuters