HAUNTING images have revealed the inside of an abandoned city built in a hollow skyscraper.
He explained how criminals stripped the entire skyscraper, including the elevators, who also charged residents for their stay.
“Drug dealing and prostitution thrived behind its grey walls,” Russell said.
“Of course there was no maintenance for the building so people threw their trash in the middle and even suicidal people through them selves over.
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The architect also painted the horrifying yet real picture of bodies and trash piling up to 14 floors in the 55-storey building.
Ponte City was built in the 1970s and houses 482 apartments and it remains the tallest residential skyscraper in South Africa.
The name Ponte means “bridge” in Latin, and was specifically named like that to symbolise the bridge between heaven and earth, Russell explained.
These can be two-bed, three-bed or studio flats.
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The building’s cylinder shape is due to local regulations at the time, which required kitchens and bathrooms to have windows for light and ventilation.
The rather odd open void in the middle descends down to uneven natural rock.
“Architects designed an open centre void which allowed light and ventilation into both sides of the apartments,” he said.
Situated in Hillbrow, the desirable apartment building once sat right in the middle of a vibrant multicultural area full of coffee shops and bookstores.
“When the building opened in 1975, Ponte City was considered a prestigious and luxury place to live with apartments for the wealthy because of the breath-taking views across the centre of Johannesburg,” Russell explained.
“But after the Soweto uprising the market took a downturn.
“By the 1980s crime rate soared at the tower and the surrounding neighbourhood.
“The wealthy people living inside Ponte Tower began to move elsewhere in the city.
“Drugs, poverty, prostitution, gun crime and urban degradation were rife.
“Gang activity had caused the crime rate to soar in Ponte Tower’s neighbourhood.”
The building was now transformed and houses hundreds of modern and affordable apartments.
Communal areas for the building includes the capacity of over 50 shops, restaurants and banking facilities.
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