Friday 14 May 2021 | 14:03 | SYDNEY
Friday 14 May 2021 | 14:03 | SYDNEY

What we build


Sam Roggeveen


22 November 2007 11:12

Herewith, thanks to Flickr, a short photo essay on a few interesting new (and in one case refurbished) buildings around the globe, each of which says something about the world's direction. They certainly all reflect ambition and hope for the future, but maybe also a slightly arrogant disregard for the past.


 The Seville solar tower reflects sunlight onto over 600 mirrors to power the nearby city. This BBC report gives a simple explanation of how it works, and describes the sensation of visiting. It's billed as the EU's first commercial solar power plant, but received substantial EU funding.

 Photo by Flickr user afloresm, used under a Creatie Commons licence.

The new CCTV Chinese state television headquarters in Beijing. When completed it will look like an Escher drawing come to life. Designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, it reflects something of the boldness of the new China and the importance of telecommunications in the new economy, but can also be seen as a throwback to Soviet gigantism and a rather brutal statement on the continuing power of the Chinese state.

Photo by Flickr user An Pu Ruo, used under a Creative Commons licence.


The Ponte City tower in Johannesburg was built as a residential high rise in the 1970s with a unique cylindrical shape and hollow core.  As demographics changed it became rather run down in the 1980s, and was used for numerous suicides. Recently a refurbishment was announced that will remove the urban grit and accomodate South Africa's growing middle class.

Photo by Flickr user REPRESENT.CO.ZA, used under a Creative Commons licence.

The incomplete Burj Dubai is already the world's tallest building.  Construction was recently halted by a workers' strike. The UAE's construction industry relies heavily on cheap South Asian labour.

Photo by Flickr user westbaybanjo, used under a Creative Commons licence.