Ponte City Apartments
|Ponte City Apartments|
|Location||Berea, Johannesburg, South Africa|
|Roof||173 m (567.6 ft)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Designed by Manfred Hermer|
Ponte City is a skyscraper in the Berea neighbourhood, just next to Hillbrow, Johannesburg, South Africa. It was built in 1975 to a height of 173 m (567.6 ft), making it the tallest residential skyscraper in Africa. The 55-story building is cylindrical, with an open centre allowing additional light into the apartments. The centre space is known as "the core" and rises above an uneven rock floor. When built, Ponte City was seen as an extremely desirable address due to its views over all of Johannesburg and its surroundings. The neon sign on top of the building is the largest sign in the southern hemisphere. It currently advertises the South African mobile phone company Vodacom.
The principal designer of Ponte was Mannie Feldman, working in a team together with Manfred Hermer and Rodney Grosskopff. Grosskopff recalled the decision to make the building circular, the first cylindrical skyscraper in Africa. At the time, Johannesburg bylaws required kitchens and bathrooms to have a window, so Grosskopff designed the building with a hollow interior, allowing light to enter the apartments from both sides. At the bottom of the immense building were retail stores and initial plans were to include an indoor ski slope on the 3,000-square-metre (32,000 sq ft) inner core floor. The building was so tall because developers wanted a large number of units but only had limited land to build on. The building is located 35 minutes from the OR Tambo International Airport and almost within walking distance of the inner city with theatres like the Market and the Civic within 5 km (3.1 mi).
During the late 1980s, gang activity had caused the crime rate to soar at the tower and the surrounding neighbourhood. By the 1990s, many gangs moved into the building and it became extremely unsafe. Ponte City became symbolic of the crime and urban decay gripping the once cosmopolitan Berea neighbourhood. The core filled with debris five storeys high as the owners left the building to decay. There were even proposals in the mid-1990s to turn the building into a highrise prison. In 2001 Trafalgar Properties took over management of the building and began making numerous improvements.
In May 2007 Ponte changed ownership and a re-development project "New Ponte" was put in motion. David Selvan and Nour Addine Ayyoub under Ayyoub's company, Investagain, planned to revitalise the building completely. The planned development would have contained 467 residential units, retail and leisure-time areas. Over the next few years, the Johannesburg Development Agency planned to invest about R900-million in the areas around Ponte City such as the Ellis Park Precinct project, as well as an upgrade of Hillbrow and Berea partly in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
In the arts
- One of the final shots of the 2009 film District 9 is of the tower.
- Director Philip Bloom dedicated a documentary film titled Ponte Tower.
- Ingrid Martens filmed the documentary Africa Shafted: Under one Roof, entirely, over two and a half years, in the Ponte lifts.
- The skyscraper "Peach Trees" featured in the 2012 South African film Dredd is heavily inspired by Ponte tower.
- The final scene of the 2014 movie SEAL Team 8: Behind Enemy Lines was shot in this location.
- One of the scenes of the 2015 movie Chappie was shot in this location.
- A battle scene was filmed inside the tower for the 2016 movie Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.
- German writer Norman Ohler used the Ponte as the setting for his book Stadt des Goldes ("City of Gold"), "Ponte sums up all the hope, all the wrong ideas of modernism, all the decay, all the craziness of the city. It is a symbolic building, a sort of white whale, it is concrete fear, the tower of Babel, and yet it is strangely beautiful".
- South African photographer Mikhael Subotzky and British artist Patrick Waterhouse won the Discovery award at the Rencontres d'Arles photography festival in 2011 for their three-year project "Ponte City", photographing the residents, interiors and exteriors of the building, and which produced a series of giant tableaux, made up of hundreds of contact sheets, presented in towering light boxes.
- In 2017, Ponte City Tower was the subject of an episode of the Roman Mars radio program and podcast 99% Invisible.
- Jeff Blumenkrantz, an American actor, composer and lyricist – who never lived in the building – wrote a song that tells a tale could very well have taken place somewhere on the upper floors of Ponte City. He was invited to write a song for a benefit concert for the organisation “Broadway in South Africa” in 2008, and as he tells it, he was struck by the drawing of an eleven-year-old girl. She had drawn a “row of buildings, but one was significantly taller than the others, with the word Voda across the top. I was intrigued by the ‘Voda Building,’ and so began my research into The Ponte City Tower.”
- Centro Financiero Confinanzas
- List of tallest buildings in South Africa
- List of tallest buildings in Africa
- Pampalone, Tanya (2009). "The Full Ponte". Maverick. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
- "Ponte City Apartments". Emporis. 2009. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
- Davie, (9 November 2007). "Ponte: revival of a Joburg icon". pub. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
- Chipkin, Clive, Johannesburg in Transition, STE Publishers, 2008
- Editors note in Housing in Southern Africa, 2006, "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2006. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- Hanes, Stephanie (12 February 2008). "Ponte City – a South African landmark – rises again". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
- Redmond, Gillian (10 January 2003). "Johannesburg Landmarks". Randburg Sun. Amethyst.co.za. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
- Pampalone, Tania (16 December 2008). "Ponte project crashes". Mail & Guardian Online. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
- Sailer, Steve (21 August 2009). "Neill Blomkamp's Giant Apartheid Metaphor". iSteve.com. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
- Bloom, Philip (2012-10-12), Ponte Tower, retrieved 2018-09-17
- "I'M Original | Media that Matters". I'M Original | Media that Matters. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
- IMDb Chappie movie page. 2015.
- Lenora Brown, Ryan (21 February 2017). "The South African Building That Came to Symbolize the Apocalypse". The Atlantic.
- Ohler, Norman. Stadt des Goldes (in German) (1 April 2002 ed.). Rowohlt Tb. ISBN 3-499-22727-4.- Total pages: 253
- Sean O'Hagan, "Tower blocks and tomes dominate the Rencontres d'Arles", The Guardian, 11 July 2011.
- "Ponte City Tower - 99% Invisible". 99% Invisible. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
- Whitby, Suzanne. "Ponte: Tower of Dreams". Retrieved on 29 September 2018.