Down to the core, the Hillbrow story

Down to the core of Ponte City Tower

I became fascinated with the Ponte Tower the day I saw a picture taken from the base of the building. The light, tunnelled down to the core, reflected on the hundreds of windows of the structure, created a dramatic effect that I had never seen anywhere else. I wanted to see it for myself. Yes, but the Ponte Tower is on the verge of Hillbrow, the part of the city that everybody told us to avoid. There was no way for us to get there.

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Jozi’s landmarks: the Hillbrow Tower

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Candy clouds hanging over Hillbrow Tower

Jozi’s skyline fascinates me. It may just be a few buildings rising from the highs and lows of the city’s many ridges, pressed over the deep blue line of the horizon. It may be so. But to most people, Jozi’s skyline is the powerful image of a city built on hope and dreams that surrendered to countless crimes and sins. It has a mythical dimension that attracts you, that resonates to the many stories you’ve been told as a child, a city of perdition, a new Sodoma & Gomorra,  the Pandora’s box that makes you wonder what’s inside. There are those who stay clear from it, and those who engulf into it. I stay somewhere in between. Many times, I’ve fantasised about the microcosm hidden behind the imprint that I see every night on my way back from work without daring to walk its streets to the full extent. So to tame the beast, and satisfy my strong desire to know more about the city, I’ve decided to start a serie on its most famous landmarks, and see where it leads me. This is the first step in my attempt to know the city, and its people, better.

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The day we flew over Jozi

Jozi's most famous landmarks: Ponte, Hillbrow Tower, and Brixton Tower in the distance

Jozi’s most famous landmarks: Ponte, Hillbrow Tower, and Brixton Tower in the distance

A few weeks ago, we had the privilege to fly during 1h over Jozi in an helicopter. We departed from the Midrand Grand Central Airport, flew over Sandton, reached the centre of the city from the East side, and then in direction of Soweto and Soccer City, where we started our return, going around the city from the West side this time, and then Fourways, Midrand, and back to the airport. I won’t say much about the trip, except that it was one of the best experiences I have ever had, and that I would recommend it to anyone interested in getting to know the city from a different perspective. I’ll let the photos do the talking. Continue reading