Skyscraper-well Ponte City Apartments: the highest and most problematic in Africa

Skyscraper-well Ponte City Apartments: the highest and most problematic in Africa

Categories: Africa | Design and Architecture | Society

The largest and most populous city in South Africa is Johannesburg. More than 6 million people live in this metropolis, the offices of the largest companies of the Black Continent are concentrated and its most dangerous slums are located. This city is the richest in the country and at the same time the poorest. And here is the highest building in Africa, Ponte City Apartments, which has become a real problem for Johannesburg.

Skyscraper-well Ponte City Apartments: the highest and most problematic in Africa

The skyscraper Ponte City Apartments was built in 1975 in the center of an elite area. This is not an office center, but a residential building with 55 floors and 470 apartments. The main "chip" of the building was its shape - it has the shape of a well round in terms of plan. At its bottom was a recreational area with lawns, a playground and places to relax.

Skyscraper-well Ponte City Apartments: the highest and most problematic in Africa

The architects chose this form of the building for a reason. South African law requires that every room in an apartment have at least one window, including the bathroom. This could be achieved by designing a house of complex configuration, with numerous ledges. But the land in the center of Johannesburg costs a lot of money, so the shape of the well was chosen during the design.

Skyscraper-well Ponte City Apartments: the highest and most problematic in Africa

The skyscraper occupies a small area, and thanks to its shape, there are windows in every bathroom and kitchen. The layout of the apartments turned out to be very successful, which is especially surprising in this case. Housing in Ponte City Apartments sold out like hot cakes, but the joy of the residents was short-lived.

Skyscraper-well Ponte City Apartments: the highest and most problematic in Africa

In the early 1990s, the crime situation in the city deteriorated sharply. Gradually, the skyscraper-well was at the mercy of local gangs. Residents of the once elite house abandoned their apartments and fled, and criminal gangs divided its floors and sections among themselves. And due to the fact that no one paid for utilities, they soon ceased to be provided.

Skyscraper-well Ponte City Apartments: the highest and most problematic in Africa

The recreational area in the center of the "well" has turned into a monstrous dump. The new owners of the skyscraper threw waste into the courtyard. Soon the garbage level reached the fifth floor. Elevator shafts were turned into toilets, and they were filled for many meters with fetid sewage.

Skyscraper-well Ponte City Apartments: the highest and most problematic in Africa

So the unique circular skyscraper of its kind, Ponte City Apartments, turned from a landmark of Johannesburg into one of its serious problems. The criminal commune was so dangerous and unpredictable that even the police did not dare to enter the building.

Skyscraper-well Ponte City Apartments: the highest and most problematic in Africa

Any resident of the city who was in trouble with the law knew that he only needed to get to the skyscraper, which is visible from any part of the metropolis. No, he will not be safe there - this concept was completely absent within the walls of Ponte City Apartments. But the hand of the law will definitely not reach him there.

Skyscraper-well Ponte City Apartments: the highest and most problematic in Africa

The Johannesburg authorities have tried many times to revive the skyscraper and the business district around it. Many ambitious projects were presented. One of them suggested turning the building into a prison. This is symbolic, because its inhabitants would not even have to go anywhere. By the way, this experience is far from new. This is how the abandoned Helicoid shopping center in Caracas, Venezuela, was converted into a prison. But something constantly interfered with the solution of the Ponte City problem.

Skyscraper-well Ponte City Apartments: the highest and most problematic in Africa

A good chance at Ponte City Apartments appeared in 2007. The building finally had an owner who took it seriously. The bandits were driven out of the house, the recreational area, elevator shafts and floors were cleared of waste. They even updated communications, which had fallen into a deplorable state over the years.

Skyscraper-well Ponte City Apartments: the highest and most problematic in Africa

Soon the elevators and the ventilation system were up and running. The building has video surveillance and armed guards. We decided to reanimate the surrounding neighborhoods. The estimate for the work amounted to 900 million rand (3.5 billion rubles). But the grandiose plan was not destined to be fully realized. In 2008, the global crisis hit and everything came to a standstill.

Skyscraper-well Ponte City Apartments: the highest and most problematic in Africa

Now Ponte City Apartments is a completely safe place, adored by tourists. The skyscraper is guarded, the elevators are working and, they say, some apartments even have residents. But the building still looks like a scenery for an apocalypse movie and requires large financial investments.

Skyscraper-well Ponte City Apartments: the highest and most problematic in Africa

By the way, the picturesque decline of the 55-storey skyscraper is exploited with might and main by film companies. The owner willingly rents it out for filming a movie. The building can be seen in such famous films as "Judge Dredd", "Chappie the Robot", "District 9" and the last part of "Resident Evil".

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