Ponte City Tower
Ponte City Tower in the heart of Johannesburg’s Centra Business District, is a cylindrical brutalist skyscraper rising 54 storeys. (173-meters or 568-feet). It remains the tallest residential skyscraper in Africa. The neon sign on top of the building is the largest sign in the southern hemisphere.
The brutalist design and the building’s history of crime and urban decay has made it a popular location for apocalyptic themed films including Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, District 9, and Chappie. The 2012 science-fiction action film Dredd, which filmed in South Africa, filmed the skyscraper Peach Trees, a location heavily inspired by Ponte City Tower.
When the building opened in 1976 it was one of Africa’s most glamorous residence with three-storey penthouses, wine cellars, saunas and jacuzzis. The rich white residents occupied the out-facing apartments, and the black servants occupied the inner apartments, in permanent twilight.
By the 1990s Ponte had become a crime-riddled slum. The 11th and 12th floors were stripped bare and turned into drug dens and brothels. The city cease public services so residents dumped rubbish into the cylinder’s inner core. At its peak the trash heap reached as high the 14th floor with dead bodies later found in the detritus. There were even proposals in the mid-1990s to turn the building into a highrise prison.
Today, the building has been fully renovated and is a symbol of the quickly gentrifying area of Johannesburg. 5101 is an event space on the 51st floor open for brunch and sundowners. The building comes with 24-hour security and apartments are even available for renting on Airbnb.
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