The Leonardo, a 55-story building designed mostly by women and measuring up to 227 meters in height has been widely celebrated as Africa’s tallest building, a title formerly held by the Carlton Centre in Johannesburg since 1973.
The building, now completed, was set to open in November of 2019, but it appears we might have to wait a little while before it opens to the public as well as officially claim its title barring any issues as raised by Africa Check with its certification by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).
Skyscrapers have more than just a fancy title to offer the city it is built in. There are broad economic opportunities to be tapped into. According to Mail and Guardian, construction of the Leonardo created 2,000 direct jobs and up to 20,000 indirect employment opportunities through the vast network of contractors required to complete it. Also, there is the enormous vote of confidence that the building represents in South Africa’s economy — and its future.
The Leonardo was designed by South African firm Co-Arc International Architects and contains a mixture of office space, shops, apartments and hotel rooms. The team of architects that managed the construction was female led, with nine of the 11 positions performed by women.
The Leonardo contributes to various architectural milestones achieved around the world and sets the pace for the dawn of a new decade of high-rise buildings and a rising continent. Many centuries ago, Africa led the world as far as skyscrapers were concerned with the great pyramid of Giza until the Lincoln Cathedral was completed in 1300. Perhaps with the Leonardo, regardless of how it pales in comparison to Dubai’s 828-metre tall Burj Khalifa, we might yet take the continent to new heights with skyscrapers. Already, there are talks of Kenya’s Pinnacle Towers or the Mohammed VI Tower in Morocco, coming for the title of Africa’s tallest building in 2021.