Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Hollow Tower

A Daily Dose informed me that this month's Wallpaper features a story on Ponte City, a staggeringly tall residential and commercial tower in Johannesburg, South Africa. The building is a 54 story, cylindrical behemouth that is completely hollow on the inside.

Ponte City apparently has gone through periods of both prosperity and abject poverty. Initially serving as a self-sufficient, upscale tower of modernity, this (perhaps overly) ambitious project fell on hard times, degenerating into a poor, urban battlefield of drug dealers, prostitutes and suicidal souls (who apparently preferred to jump outwards rather than inwards).

A German author poetically describes the tragic icon, "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."

Apparently the building is emerging from its dark past now, but you can't help but wonder if the building wasn't some sort of modern Tower of Babel - doomed to fail because it symbolized an excessive vision that ignored its very surroundings.

Image via Wallpaper

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