Carlton Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, is Africa’s tallest building. The 50-floor, 223 metres-tall building was completed in 1973 and no building has surpassed it since.
But, not for much longer. In three years’ time, the tallest building on the continent will be The Pinnacle, currently under construction by Hass Petroleum at the junction of Upper Hill Road and Haile Selassie Avenue.
The tower will be built at a cost of Sh20 billion and will have 70 floors. It will be home to a new 45-storey Hilton, the only one of its kind in Kenya and the 50th on the continent.
It will also have a 5-star restaurant on the 42nd floor, the largest banqueting and conference facilities in Nairobi, a luxury spa and gym, and an open-air infinity pool as part of the two-tower development.
It will also include 42 floors of residential apartments, 20 floors of Grade A offices, five floors of shopping and three floors of basement parking, a gaming zone and a luxury mall spread across three floors.
At 900 feet, the building will also have the highest viewing deck in Africa, offering spectacular views of Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya. It will also have a helipad.
“At over 800 feet, the highest on the continent, we thought it wise to put the helipad here so that people can fly directly to the hotel and beat Nairobi’s hectic traffic,” said Hass Petroleum Executive Chairman for East and Central Africa Abdinasir Hassan during the laying of the foundation.
There will also be 200 residential houses run by Hilton Hotel. These will include one bedroom, two bedrooms and three bedroom fully furnished luxury apartments.
Leading the pack of the tallest buildings in the country is UAP Towers, also in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area. Rising 163 metres above the ground and with 33 floors of office space, the building is called ‘the tower on the hill’ for obvious reasons.
But this is a title that will give way in a short while.
Well, most city residents grew up admiring the height and unique design of Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC). Completed in 1974, it was the height (quite literally) and symbol of the country’s economic strides. Even today, a memorabilia photo with the iconic building towering above is a must for a first-time visitor to the city.
In all its glory, KICC is a ‘mere’ 105 metres. Simply put, you can stack three of these to reach the height of The Pinnacle. Will the famous KICC photographers relocate to Upper Hill? Only time will tell.
While Nairobi will take pride of place as the African city with the tallest skyscraper, The Pinnacle will still be a dwarf compared to 10 of the world’s most iconic towers.
The medal for the tallest structure on earth is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. At 828 metres, the “Burj” slices through the desert clouds and is one of the most photographed, tallest free-standing structures today. The architecture features a triple-lobed footprint, taking the shape of the Hymenocallis flower.
It is a building of superlatives. It took over six years of construction from 2004, with 12,000 workers spending 22 million man-hours on site. If you were to attempt a work of such magnitude on your own, it would take you more than 7,534 years!
Interestingly, the original design was for a 90-storey tower. However, Dubai’s ruler pushed Emaar, the city-based realtor, to push the boundaries of creativity and come up with the tallest building in the world.
But the Burj does not take all the accolades. As high as it is, its elevators are the third fastest in the world. The elevators on the Taipei 101 building in Taiwan are the fastest at 60kph, taking 37 seconds to reach the top of the 500-metre building.
That is faster that the speed of some cars on Kenyan roads.
In comparison, the Burj Khalifa elevators travel at 36kph. However, the speed has been compensated for by the installation of double-decker elevators that ferry more people at a time.