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Old abandoned structures across Africa

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This page is dedicated to old abandoned and ruined structures in Africa
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First structure

Monrovia: Inside the ruins of one of Africa’s first 5-star hotels


BBC World

The Ducor hotel in Monrovia, Liberia, used to attract the world's rich and famous. Could it still play a part in Liberia's future?
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pre 1980 Monrovia: street scenes and Ducor Hotel

hotel in the back

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after the wars nowadays

view from the hotel today

Courtesy of Eofp & Vaucher
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plans existed to reactivate this former jewel, but as little information can be found, I guess it just remains nothing more but a fading dream
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Grande Hotel in Beira Mozambique

The Grande Hotel was indeed grand, at the time billed as the largest and most exquisite hotel on the continent. With 116 rooms, an Olympic-sized swimming pool with cabana, and multiple attended elevators, the hotel brought a class to Beira the city had not previously seen. The hotel’s architecture is not native to Beira; it reminds residents of the city’s Portuguese roots, where Art Deco design was popular in the 1930s and 40s.

Serendipity Films, Grande Hotel, Beira, Mozambique. In one of the grandest hotels in the world, born of and to luxury, today you enter 'at own risk'. More than 2500 people live there without water or electricity. They have taken possession of the building and manipulated not only the stones but also the dreams. A journey through present and past of a city in a city; a story about colonial megalomania, revolutionary vanity and feeling at home.
I will watch this documentary in full:yes:
Slum that used to be one of Africa's most opulent hotels

By Joshua Howat Berger

12:49PM BST 23 Oct 2009

At this towering Art Deco structure in Mozambique's second largest city, Beira, the political parties have covered the walls with campaign slogans of progress, prosperity and change.

But the politicians' promises have not done much to improve life at the Grande Hotel, where 3,500 people live in destitute squalor in the shell of what was once one of Africa's most opulent hotels.

"This was very sophisticated," said Joao Goncalves, the building's ad hoc mayor, as he led a tour through the winding corridors of the hotel.

But now, he added, "it's practically a ruin."

As Goncalves walked through hallways overflowing with the signs of his community's misery - rotting trash filling the courtyards, a drunk man collapsed on the floor, a woman urinating off the balcony - he told the story of the building's transformation from luxury hotel to slum.

It's a story that encapsulates the history of Mozambique itself.

The Grande Hotel was built in the 1950s, when the country was still a Portuguese colony.

With its elegant decor, Olympic-size pool and sweeping views of the Indian ocean, the hotel was to be a decadent escape for colonial Africa's elite.

But that dream crashed headlong into Mozambicans' own vision for their country, as the Left-leaning Liberation Front of Mozambique (Frelimo) began a war for independence in 1964.

As the winds of change began to stir, the Grande Hotel's owners abandoned the property. The Portuguese dictatorship fell in 1974, and Mozambique gained independence the following year.

But by 1977 the country was again embroiled in violent conflict. Frelimo's Marxist government was drawn into a bloody civil war by the anti-Communist Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo), a rebel movement sponsored by white-ruled Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and apartheid South Africa.

The war drove more than a million Mozambicans from their homes. Many sought refuge in Beira, where thousands took shelter in the abandoned hotel.

As the 16-year civil war sent Mozambique deeper into poverty, the hotel's new residents stripped it bare.

The parquet floors, the chandeliers, the elevators, the decorations - all were torn out and sold, burned or otherwise put to use.

Today the hotel is a slum with no electricity or running water.

Rats feast on the garbage that overflows the building's cavities. Residents do their laundry in the fetid water that remains in the pool. Trees grow through the balconies, their roots stretching into the air below.

It's a dangerous place to raise a family.

"We have to be very careful," said Elisa Domingos, a resident and young mother.

"Up on the roof there's an open elevator shaft. When a child falls down it, they die."

Four people have fallen to their deaths in the last decade, said Goncalves.

Yet the demand for rooms in the hotel is high as ever, he added.

The four-storey hotel is packed with people. Besides the rooms and suites, families live in the corridors, the old cold rooms in the basement, and the mechanical room beneath the former pool bar, which today serves as a mosque.

While Mozambique has grown rapidly since a 1992 peace accord - it experienced an average annual population growth of eight per cent over a decade - it remains one of the world's poorest countries.

The boom has done little to improve life at the bottom of the economy. For many the opportunity of free housing is too good to pass up, no matter the conditions.

"It's not that people want to live here. It's because they don't have money," said John Mulobuana, a resident at the hotel.

Conditions are unlikely to improve at the former hotel, with either renovating or razing the building prohibitively expensive options.

Licinio Azevedo, a filmmaker whose 2007 documentary Night Lodgers is set in the hotel, said evacuating the building is not realistic either.

"If you take those people out of there, put them somewhere in the neighborhood, other people are going to come and occupy it because the lack of housing here is very great," he said.

But Azevedo said he also sees hope in the hotel's story.

"I see beauty there from the human point of view," he said.

"Mozambicans are very resistant. They're an insistent, resistant people. So I think they're going to stay there until the end."
The Future

The building is unsafe and an eyesore, but there are several reasons it is unlikely the Grande Hotel will be demolished anytime soon.

For one, the city of Beira does not own the land and cannot force action
. And the cost to raze the property is beyond anyone’s budget, rendering any initiative moot.

However the biggest concern is the displacement of the residents, who are there not by choice but because they have no place else to go.

Demolition of the hotel would require relocation of thousands of refugees to alternate housing first, adding to the cost of any proposal.

Until action is taken, the safety of the residents will remain at risk. Parts of the building have started to crumble from decades of salvaging activity; it is only a matter of time until a floor will collapse.

With an estimated two to five thousand refugees calling the Grande Hotel home, any collapse could be catastrophic.

The structure presents dangers beyond construction failures. Children playing around vacant elevator shafts have fallen to their death.

The lack of windows or railings has left hazards at every corner, not just the elevator shafts. Numerous refugees have fallen to their deaths from the rooms and rooftops as well.

The lack of organized or a municipal sanitation disposal service has resulted in large piles of garbage accumulating around the hotel. The decades of unmanaged trash which have been allowed to accumulate pose serious health risks and add an increased threat of disease.

According to the Red Cross, the hotel residents have a very high risk of exposure to diseases such as malaria, cholera, and HIV/AIDS, among others.

Considering Beira is not a wealthy city, it’s unlikely the government can afford to act on any demolition proposal.

At least for now, the refugees of the Grande Hotel still have a home.
Courtesy of Something interesting
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