Architecture of another era


The Saldanha Works was modelled after a medieval city, architect Hannes Meiring told the Sunday Times shortly after the steel plant produced its first coil of hot-rolled steel in 1998.At 110m tall, it is also no coincidence that the industrial facility's tower is almost the same height as the Torrazzo of Cremona, near Milan. It was designed to have that same medieval look from a distance."The landscape around here reminded me of Europe in the Middle Ages, with its Gothic cathedrals," said Meiring, referring to the West Coast.When Iscor, the Industrial Development Corporation and the Western Cape government pushed ahead with the project in the mid-1990s it was met with strong resistance from environmental groups. After a legal battle, the steel mill was built 9km from the site that had originally been earmarked.This is also what drew Meiring, who died in 2010, to the project, as some of the detractors were concerned that the industrial facility would be an eyesore. The plant is now very much a landmark on the west coast, where locals refer to it as Disneyland.

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