Haunting images show ‘terrifying dystopia’ of Africa’s tallest residential tower

These hauntingly beautiful images show the towering grandeur of Africa’s tallest residential building.

The 55-storey Ponte City tower in Johannesburg, South Africa, looms over the city from the rough suburb of Berea.

Soaring to 173m (567t), the building has been used as a location for the sci-fi thriller District 9 and horror film Resident Evil.

Architect Dimitar Karanikolov captured this series of sublime images in May after a trip to the country to photograph wildlife.

The 42-year-old, from London said: "Ponte City tower is probably the most amazing and also terrifying piece of dystopian architecture I’ve ever seen."



Built in 1975, the cylindrical skyscraper was intended to be a prime location in what, at the time, was an up-and-coming area of the nation’s largest urban centre.

But a steep rise in crime in the 1990s saw gangs move in, turning Ponte City into a ‘vertical slum’.

As the building fell further into decay and disrepair, its hollow centre was reportedly filled with so much rubbish that it reached to the fifth floor.


At one point, there were even proposals to turn it into a high-rise prison.

Although the building has been renovated in recent years – with residents gradually returning – the area still has its problems.

Dimitar said: "We were told we should not go alone in this neighbourhood and especially this building as it is too dangerous.

"Even our taxi driver was surprised we wanted to get to this part of the town."


He eventually arranged to go with Dlala Nje, an organisation that works with children in the area and does guided tours of the tower.

Dimitar said: "I was sure it would be a very photogenic space and an exciting place to see.

"I specialise in architectural visualisation, which is more or less virtual photography.

"The same principles of composition, light and colour apply in my daytime job as in classic photography."


Images taken on his Leica Q with a 28mm lens show the circular floors ascending towards the blinding daylight from the darkness of its base.

One vertigo-inducing picture taken from one of the upper floors makes the interior look like a bottomless well.

Others show his guides posing on the unfinished rock of the ground floor, craning their necks upwards.

Dimitar said: "Ponte city is a photographer’s dream – a surreal space with great textures, light and context."

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