Telkom’s Lukasrand tower is already indelibly etched against the Tshwane (Pretoria) skyline. In a record-breaking effort that has been officially recognised as a Guinness World Record in the category of “largest football sculpture”, this majestic landmark has been spectacularly enhanced with the construction and mounting of a gigantic football at its summit.
The ball is made out of fibre-glass shells that are mounted and supported on the inside with steel frames. Weighing approximately 50 tonnes in total, the ball measures approximately 24 metres in diameter and eight storeys in height. It is larger than any structure of its kind in the country and the African continent.
“As a national supporter of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Telkom is confident that this initiative will engender greater public support and excitement ahead of this year’s Final Draw on 4 December in Cape Town, and the world’s largest football showpiece to be hosted in South Africa next year,” said Telkom’s Group CEO, Reuben September.
He added: “Besides highlighting Tshwane as one of the host cities, this feature could become one of the most eye-catching off-field spectacles related to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Telkom is proud to give Gauteng a visible legacy that will forever link the province to the world’s greatest soccer tournament.”
In order to meet the stringent application and approval processes to construct the ball, Telkom commenced the statutory planning process in March 2008. The South African National Defence Force, Civil Aviation Authority and National Roads Agency were consulted prior to commencing this process. In addition, FIFA and the City of Tshwane both played an important role in the approval of all the design plans.
A diverse spectrum of engineers was also consulted to source expert recommendations on the best materials to be used in the project. In view of the fact that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was required as part of the application submission to the Tshwane City Council, Telkom has ensured that a thorough independent EIA was conducted so that best practices were maintained throughout the building and mounting processes. The Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment, and the Residence Associations were consulted in this regard.
Following the completion of the EIA, authorisation for the construction at the Lukasrand Tower was granted last December, and the Lukasrand Tower ball was completed in mid-September 2009.
The completion of the Lukasrand project was impacted by varying factors. Firstly, there were no precast elements for the ball. Each piece was carefully drawn, engineered, moulded and constructed owing to the size of the ball being larger than anything ever constructed for this purpose in the past.
In addition, the shell of the ball consists of 96 separate pieces that required meticulous construction. It took just over 24 hours for a single product to fully harden in a mould and a further seven days of curing before the moulds could be fixed to the wooden panels.
Added to this, the size of the ball necessitated outdoors construction only. “Consequently, weather conditions also influenced the final completion date,” explained Thami Magazi, Telkom’s Group Executive for Multi-National Customers, adding that with the completion of the Lukasrand project, Telkom has joined the ranks of other world renowned brands that have lit up the skies of Las Vegas, London and New York by embracing the concept of branding telecommunications’ towers.
Construction of a similar humungous football has also commenced atop Telkom’s Hillbrow Tower and is earmarked for completion towards the end of this year.
“By creating a large visual spectacle at the pinnacle of the Lukasrand and Hillbrow towers, Telkom is offering every citizen of, and visitor to Gauteng, an opportunity to share in the soccer frenzy that’s starting to envelope our country,” added Magazi.
He concluded: “Since all materials utilised in the construction are recyclable, Telkom will consider options with regard to how these could be used to optimally benefit disadvantaged communities when the structures are eventually removed.”