Saturday, 26 May 2018

Ponte Tower: Urban slum transformed to tourist attraction

Afrida Ahmed

Since 2001 there has been a drive to regenerate the area of the tallest residential building in South Africa which was known for drugs, poverty and prostitution, reports BBC.

This is actually Africa. Africa is in one building. You make it taller or double the size. There are 54 floors and this is the tallest residential building in South Africa.

Jonathan lives on the 52nd floor. He said Ponte was built in the seventies and it was built for a very elite white population of Johannesburg. By the 90s the building had slipped into a stage of being a vertical urban slum. It had no electricity or water.

A building built for 3500 people, was now home to over 10000. In the building’s hollow core, rubbish piled up to the fifth floor and it was known for drugs, poverty, prostitution and gun crime. But since 2001, there has been a drive to regenerate the area. It seems like the building has finally hit a balance where it’s not only for white elite or it’s not a slum, it’s kind of for your average everyday middle class South African.

Now it had 24-hour security guards and biometric fingerprint access, tours for tourists to see inside the tower, and its home to 3000 middle and working-class people. It does represent the kind of future that at least I would like to see in South Africa said Jonathan. It’s inclusive of everyone and it’s something that he feels they really need in Johannesburg, for people to move back into the city and engage with it again.

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