HOW CONCRETE HAS SHAPED SOUTH AFRICAN LANDSCAPES THROUGH THE AGES

From historic concrete landmarks to more modern constructs, see how concrete has been shaping South Africa’s landscape for centuries gone by. A material so durable that today it is one of the most widely used building materials in construction, using a blend of Portland cement, various textured aggregate and water, join us as we explore various concrete constructs that line South African horizons.

  • The Castle of Good Hope – Cape Town
    Set against the backdrop of the Table Mountain in the Cape Town CBD the Castle of Good Hope was erected by the Dutch East India Company between 1666 and 1679 and is said to be the oldest colonial building in South Africa still standing today. Building materials used to construct this historic monument included cement created from burning shells in lime kilns which was then blended with crushed shells and sand to a durable concrete.
  • Table Mountain Cable Way – Cape Town
    An engineering project that saw construction workers having to carry equipment and materials to the top of the mountain before construction could begin, the Cape Town cable way took four years to build and was first opened in 1929. Making use of a temporary ropeway and an open box called the ” Soapbox” to carry cement and other building materials as well as workers up and down the mountain, surprisingly the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway has remained accident free for more than 90 years.
  • Orlando Towers – Johannesburg
    Completed in 1951 The Orlando Towers were originally built as part of a coal fired power station which took 20 years to build due to delays attributed to World War II. Decommissioned in 1998 the towers are today a defining landmark in Soweto where both concrete constructs stand 33 storeys tall, painted with images of township culture and welcome an abundance of local and international tourists to extreme sporting and cultural attractions.
  • Ponte Tower – Johannesburg
    Still the tallest residential apartment building in Africa, Ponte Tower was completed in 1957 standing 54 storeys and 173 meters high. A recognisable landmark against the infamous Johannesburg CBD skyline, Ponte Tower is a reinforced concrete tube complete with an open-air centre that was originally intended to allow more light into the cylindrical construct.
  • Concrete Dolos – East London
    Designed by a world famous South African harbour draughtsman Aubrey Kruger, the dolos sea buffer system of interlocking concrete is still used today to dissipate waves at rough breakwaters all around the world. Having based the design on the dubbeltjie thorn (Devils Thorn), original dolosse were cast into unreinforced geometric concrete designs weighing up to 20 tons per piece and placed in an interlocking matrix. Extremely effective in reducing the force of breakwater waves these designs are still used today some 50 years after conceptualisation.
  • The Administration Buildings of UNISA – Pretoria
    Known to many as “Die Skip” (the Ship) the Administration Building of the University of Pretoria UNISA makes for a striking backdrop when entering the capital city of Pretoria. The three-pointed star shaped building was completed in 1968 but later expanded to accommodate for more office space and features a magnificent concrete facade on the northwest wall adding texture and drama to the already commanding concrete construct.