River Park’s new dome adding to East London’s changing skyline

The new steel dome roof of River Park takes shape. (PHOTO: Waldo Malan).

By Waldo Malan

Visitors to East London that arrive by way of the R72 have for years have been met with the city skyline that includes the Telkom tower, Trinity Church spires and some more modern office blocks. More recently, and in the near future, a skyline that is rapidly changing will greet these same visitors. Just past the iconic Biko Bridge a new shopping mall has been erected adjacent to the East London Zoo, and across the road River Park is also undergoing a transformation.

Once completed, a large steel dome roof that will tower above the harbour and become an iconic landmark itself will identify River Park. Construction started early in May 2015 to the 55 000 m2 expanse into transforming it into a multi-functional television studio for international broadcasts. Prior to the new steel roof being bolted into place it was necessary to remove all of the wood floors and put in reinforced concrete. Trucks loaded to the fill with packed wood beams and flooring have been travelling to Cape Town over the last few months.

Another big challenge the construction crew faced was the removal of the old roof, still in its characteristic zigzag factory profiles. Currently ±30% of the old roof has been dismantled and the new steel beams for the dome can be seen protruding above the existing roof. Completion of the project is expected early in 2016.

R72 approach to River Park. (Architect’s impression: Imbono FJA Architects).

Once completed, the new television studio at River Park, the facilities that will be occupied by Faith Broadcasting Network will see an influx of visitors to East London when live broadcasts are aired from here. The completed studio will be able to record and host anything from conferencing, talk shows, live music events and when needed sports events.

Faith Broadcasting Network already covers the entire continent of Africa with 24/7 programming that is sourced globally as well as recorded in East London. For the duration of the construction of Studio A, all programmes are being recorded in the secondary Studio B. The live recordings are a trademark of Faith Broadcasting Network, and are streamed live via the Internet in addition to being broadcast on the various channels under its banner. The channels comprising Faith Broadcasting Network are FaithAfrica (DSTV 341), ClearTV (Sentech), FlowTV (SkyUK), GOtv (Multichoice) and FaithTerrestrial (Sentech EC). The efforts of Faith Broadcasting is truly placing East London on the international map with regards to television production, and it seems fitting that a recognizable landmark will soon focus visitors’ attention on the important work accomplished here. This is also the only live television studio in the whole of the Eastern Cape, and truly a feather in the cap of Buffalo City at large.

Ps André Roebert, CEO of the River Group, has often spoken publically about the privilege Faith Broadcasting feels in being able to represent Buffalo City, as well as the honour to be able to contribute to the City and her people. The River Group, of which Faith Broadcasting Network forms a part, have over the years offered employment to many locals and have made a positive contribution to the economic and social well-being of the City.

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