Formerly 'Rambling with a cantankerous old mule"
I have featured Pretoria’s Telkom Tower in posts before, but this one is a bit different. Over the past few weeks whenever I’ve been out driving in town and seen the tower I’ve tried to capture it from that perspective.
Built in 1979, the tower, including its mast, stands 187 metres high in the mostly-residential suburb of Lukasrand. Over 1000 tonnes of steel and 8000m³ of concrete was used in its construction – the aggregate concrete designed to whiten over time. It has three lift (elevator) shafts arranged in a triangular pattern around a central stair shaft, and various hexagonal horizontal sections, including a lookout point (but which is now closed to the public). All this equates to a very aerodynamic design, able to reduce stress by transferring wind loads to its base.
During the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa Telkom installed a 50-tonne fibreglass soccer ball, with a diameter of 24 metres, in the middle of the tower. At the time this was recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as ‘the largest football structure’ in the world. Fortunately it has since been removed, leaving the tower in the state it was meant to be.
Having grown up in Pretoria, I remember the skyline without the telecommunications tower; and for the first few years I thought it was a blight on our city – standing directly opposite the beautiful Union Buildings. But now, now it would be weird not to see the blue beacon looming over the city.