Ponte City



Ponte Tower from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

(text taken from WIKI / photography taken from web)

Ponte City is a skyscraper in the Hillbrow neighbourhood of Johannesburg, South Africa. It was built in 1975 to aheight of 173 m (567.6 ft), making it the tallest residential skyscraper in Africa. The 54-story building is cylindrical,with an open center allowing additional light into the apartments. The center space is known as “the core” and risesabove an uneven rock floor. Ponte City was an extremely desirable address for its views over all of Johannesburgand its surroundings. The sign on top of the building is the highest and largest sign in the southern hemisphere.[1] Itcurrently advertises the South African mobile phone company Vodacom.[2]



The principal designer of Ponte was Mannie Feldman, working in a team together with Manfred Hermer and RodneyGrosskopf.[3] [4] Rodney Grosskopff recalled the decision to make the building circular, the first cylindricalskyscraper in Africa.[5] At the time, Johannesburg bylaws required kitchens and bathrooms to have a window, soGrosskopff designed the building with a hollow interior, allowing light to enter the apartments from both sides.[5] Atthe bottom of the immense building were retail stores and initial plans were to include an indoor ski slope on the32000-square-foot (3000 m2) inner core floor.[5] The building was so tall because developers wanted a large numberof units but only had limited land to build on.[5] The building was located 35 minutes from the  Jan SmutsInternational Airport (now called OR Tambo International Airport) and almost within walking distance of theinnercity with theatres like the Market and the Civic within 5 km (3.1 mi).[2]


During the late 80s gang activity had caused the crime rate to soar at the tower and the surroundingneighbourhood.[2] By the 1990s, after the end of  apartheid, many  gangs moved into the building and it becameextremely unsafe. Ponte City became symbolic of the crime and urban decay gripping the once cosmopolitanHillbrow neighborhood. The core filled with debris five stories high as the owners left the building to decay.[5] Therewere even proposals in the mid-1990s to turn the building into a highrise prison.[2] In 2001 Trafalgar Properties tookover management of the building and began making some much needed changes to the building.[6]