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10 Highlights from Guardian Cities' "History of Cities in 50 Buildings"

All good things must come to an end, and Guardian Cities' excellent "History of Cities in 50 Buildings" series is sadly no exception, with only a few more left to be published before they hit 50. The whole series is definitely worth the read, bringing in the best of academic and architectural writing from guest authors and the Guardian's own Cities team, but if you're strapped for time - and if you're an architect, it's fairly likely that's true - we've rounded up 10 highlights from the list to get you started.

Amazonas Theatre, Manaus. Image © Wikimedia user Leaderfo Narkomfin Building, Moscow. Image © Wikimedia user NVO Ponte Tower, Johannesburg. Image © Flickr user fiverlocker Byker Wall Estate, Newcastle. Image © Flickr user George Rex

David Adjaye Unveils Major Residential Development Planned for Johannesburg

Adjaye Associates has announced plans to transform a 17-floor post-modernist structure in Johannesburg’s central business district into a luxury mixed-use building that will be known as the “Hallmark House.” Scheduled for completion mid-2016, the project aims to “combine an African aesthetic with a contemporary vision” and form a new typology for urban living. 

“The transformation of Hallmark House is an opportunity to apply fresh thinking to urban community and to address changing lifestyles with a more fluid approach to the way we inhabit cities,” says David Adjaye.

House Steyn II / Thomas Gouws Architecs + Interiors

  • Architects: Thomas Gouws Architecs + Interiors
  • Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Architect in Charge: Thomas Gouws, Sureen Gouws
  • Area: 510.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2010
  • Photographs: Dook Courtesy of VISI magazine, Courtesy of Thomas Gouws, Karl Rogers

© Dook Courtesy of VISI magazine © Dook Courtesy of VISI magazine Courtesy of Thomas Gouws © Dook Courtesy of VISI magazine

Interactive Infographic Tracks the Growth of the World's Megacities

With more than 7 billion people now alive, the greatest population growth over the last century has occurred in urban areas. Now, a new series of interactive maps entitled "The Age of Megacities" and developed by software company ESRI allows us to visualize these dramatic effects and see just how this growth has shaped the geography of 10 of the world’s 28 megacities. Defined as areas with continuous urban development of over 10 million people, the number of megacities in the world is expected to increase, and while Tokyo still tops the list as the world’s largest megacity, other cities throughout Asia are quickly catching up. Find out more after the break.

105 Corlett Drive / Paragon Architects

© Andrew Bell
© Andrew Bell
  • Architects: Paragon Architects
  • Location: 105 Corlett Drive, Johannesburg, 2196, South Africa
  • Architect in Charge: Anthony Orelowitz, Carla Soudien, Kate Keightly-Smith, John Peska, Yumna Ismail, Tom Hill
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Andrew Bell

© Andrew Bell © Andrew Bell © Andrew Bell © Andrew Bell

House Liebmann / Daffonchio and Associates

  • Architects: Daffonchio and Associates
  • Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Principal Architect: Enrico Daffonchio
  • Project Architect: Leigh Maurtin
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Daffonchio and Associates

Courtesy of Daffonchio and Associates Courtesy of Daffonchio and Associates Courtesy of Daffonchio and Associates Courtesy of Daffonchio and Associates

Inside Johannesburg's Infamous Ponte City Tower

The history of Johannesburg's Ponte City Apartments is a provocative one: built in 1975 and designed by Manfred Hermer as the height of luxurious (white-only) living in South Africa, the continent's tallest residential building soon became a notorious vertical slum, filled with crime and poverty, its signature hollow core re-purposed as a trash dump and a suicide drop.

AISJ Aquatic Center / Flansburgh Architects

© Stephen O'Raw © Stephen O'Raw © Stephen O'Raw © Stephen O'Raw

From Grain Silo to Shipping Container Student Housing

Inhabitat has just featured an unlikely new student housing project in Johannesburg: Mill Junction, a student complex that consists of two former grain silos topped with shipping containers. According to its developers, Citiq Property Developers, the energy and money-saving project re-directs money towards communal facilities, proving popular with students. As a result, Mill Junction, the second shipping-container housing project built by the Developers, may be the second of many more. More info at Inhabitat.

The Armadillo Crèche / Cornell University Sustainable Design

Courtesy of Cornell University Sustainable Design Courtesy of Cornell University Sustainable Design Courtesy of Cornell University Sustainable Design Courtesy of Cornell University Sustainable Design

A Glimpse of Hope for Johannesburg's Forgotten Ponte Tower

The Ponte Tower is a residential high-rise in Johannesburg, South Africa with a unique history and now a promising future. It was designed by architect Manfred Hermer in the 1970's to be one of the most desirable places to live in the city, with an iconic, hollowed out interior, three-story apartments and rooftop jacuzzis. Over time, however, the building fell into disrepair and instead of serving as an icon of extreme wealth and prosperity, it became an icon of poverty and indifference. In still racially-divided South Africa, this was marked by the moving out of whites and the moving in of a primarily black population as property values plummeted. It has been associated with high levels of crime, a lack of sanitariness and even suicides, thanks to the building's hollow core.

Human.Kind Advertising / PPS Architects

  • Architects: PPS Architects
  • Location: 259 Jan Smuts Ave, Dunkeld, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Lizl Sheridan

© Lizl Sheridan © Lizl Sheridan © Lizl Sheridan © Lizl Sheridan

House Mosi / Nico van der Meulen Architects

Courtesy of Nico van der Meulen Architects Courtesy of Nico van der Meulen Architects Courtesy of Nico van der Meulen Architects Courtesy of Nico van der Meulen Architects

House Ber / Nico van der Meulen Architects

© Barend Roberts © Barend Roberts © Victoria Pilcher © Victoria Pilcher

115 West Street Building / Paragon Architects

  • Architects: Paragon Architects
  • Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Interior architecture: Paragon Interface
  • Structural engineer: Sotiralis Consulting
  • Quantity Surveyor: Schoombie Hartman
  • Contractor: WBHO/Tiber
  • Developer: Zenprop
  • Area: 100000.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2012
  • Photographs: Andrew Bell

© Andrew Bell © Andrew Bell © Andrew Bell © Andrew Bell

Westcliff Pavilion / GASS

  • Architects: GASS
  • Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Architects: Georg van Gass, Clare J. Eisenstein
  • Project Year: 2012
  • Photographs: Bernard Viljoen

© Bernard Viljoen © Bernard Viljoen © Bernard Viljoen © Bernard Viljoen

The Soweto Theatre / Afritects

  • Architects: Afritects
  • Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Project Architects: Clara Cruz de Almeida and Tatenda Mavunga
  • Project Team: Sergio Duarte, Tony de Oliveira
  • Company´s Owner: Laurence Chibwe
  • Client: Johannesburg Property Company (JPC)
  • Area: 5900.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2012

The Soweto Theatre / Afritects The Soweto Theatre / Afritects The Soweto Theatre / Afritects The Soweto Theatre / Afritects

Optic Garden / 26’10 south Architects and Maja Marx

  • Architects: 26’10 south Architects and Maja Marx
  • Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Project Team: Anne Graupner, Thorsten Deckler, Stephen Reid, Carl Jacobs, Sue Groenewald
  • Artist: Maja Marx
  • Photographs: John Hodgkiss

© John Hodgkiss © John Hodgkiss © John Hodgkiss © John Hodgkiss