Photos by architect Iwan Baan, whose talk at TEDCity2.0 this year celebrated ingenious homes in unexpected places.

1. Caracas, Venezuela: the Torre David, a 45-story unfinished office tower that was in the midst of construction until the developer died in 1993, followed by the crash of the Venezuelan economy the following year. About eight years ago, people started moving into the abandoned construction site, and today it is considered the world’s largest vertical slum.

2.  Caracas, Venezuela: With no lifts or escalators, the tower is essentially a forty-five-story walk up. You’ll find seniors or those less physically-abled on the lower floors, and the young and healthy near the top. Public spaces like this stairwell are painted with care in order to make the tower feel more like an apartment building.

3. Lagos, Nigeria: In the center of the city is Makoko – a community of approximately 150,000 who live and work on stilted structures, just meters above the Lagos Lagoon.

4. Lagos, Nigeria: From the barbershop to the movie theatre, every aspect of life in Makoko has been adapted to meet the demands of life on the water.

5. Caracas, Venezuela:Like a beehive, the tower provides a skeleton framework for each inhabitant to create something for himself or herself by whatever means they can afford

Below, Iwan’s talk in full:

This post comes from our friends at TED — we loved these photos so much that we just couldn’t help sharing!

Leh is a remote town in the region of Ladakh in the Indian Himalayas. Bathed in natural beauty — towering mountains, seemingly endless vistas, blankets of white mist  — the town was host to a different sort of beauty this August. 100 bright, creative, and optimistic people getting together to discuss great ideas for the future of Leh and the world at TEDxLeh.

For one speaker, Stephanie Wolcott, the event capped off an eleven-day trek through the mountains (hence the stunning photos above). She walked for seven hours a day at an altitude of 16,000 feet, braving slippery slopes in freezing rain, and delivering solar lanterns to remote villagers. Later, she recorded her fascinating experience. Below, Stephanie’s story in her own words:

A visionary Tibetan Buddhist monk, a brave Ladakhi filmmaker, a snow leopard savior, India’s best rafter, a solar crusader, two Dutch guys on bamboo bicycles and me; this was the lineup of speakers at TEDxLeh. Eclectic perhaps, but the line-up included some of the most innovative Ladakhis driven by a mission to take on the extraordinary—people from very remote, resource-challenged areas working against pretty big odds to make their world a better place.

People of the Himalayas face extreme odds, a dispersed population, poor communications capacity and few resources. Organizing, promoting and hosting a TEDx in such an environment should have been impossible, but a small group of young men, led by Paras Loomba, did it. And in the process of hosting a TEDx, the organizers, speakers and participants took their place in a global family of people doing extraordinary things — the TEDx community.

The travel playlist: Around the world in 5 TEDx Talks

image A gorgeous landscape in Afghanistan, documented by TEDx speaker James Willcox

As school starts, the weather turns cold, and long walks become harder to handle, pangs of wanderlust are sure to set in again. So to celebrate World Tourism Day, we thought we’d bring the great wide world to you. Here, we’ve hand picked five talks that take you all over the world — from Palestine to Poland — so you can travel vicariously through TEDx.

The road less traveled: Tony Wheeler at TEDxQueenstown
In the travel talk to end all travel talks, Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet, waxes poetic about the adventure of travel — in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Albania, Libya, Myanmar, the Congo, Palestine, Zimbabwe and beyond — with gorgeous photos to boot.

A new look at an old country: Mark Power at TEDxKrakow
Sent to Poland to photograph the country in 2004, just before it joined the European Union, Mark Power found himself coming back again and again. This photographic tour de force at TEDxKrakow will show you the true complexity of this fascinating country. Warning: NSFW, some graphic images.

More than a thousand words — the power of images: Antonio Bolfo at TEDxEast
NYPD police officer and photographer Antonio Bolfo has seen a lot in his career. In this dynamic talk at TEDxEast, he shows how a well-crafted photo can tell a rich, inspiring story — with examples from the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the daily work of NYPD officers.

Off-road tours in Afghanistan: James Willcox at TEDxBathUniversity
James Wilcox operates a very untraditional tour company in Afghanistan and Somalia, giving tourists a chance to see the real places behind the headlines. In this talk at TEDxBathUniversity, he describes how he was inspired to start this off-road initiative after a chance meeting with a UN translator named Abdul.

Scenes from a Romanian village: Katy Fox at TEDxLuxembourgCity
Social anthropologist Katy Fox spent several months as a researcher in rural Romania. At TEDxLuxembourgCity, she shows what she learned — weaving stories of the people she met in the villages with stunning photos of village life.

(Photo from James Willcox’s talk at TEDxBathUniversity)