Have you ever dreamt of becoming an astronaut or a pilot as a child? The sky is no limit for Angela Nikolau – a rooftopper and NFT artist, who by her 20s has already conquered the most picturesque heights this world has to offer. She turned most of these experiences into NFTs and shared them with wider audience, gaining prominent collectors and support in the NFT space. In less than half a year Angela made it to Miami Art Basel exhibition and to NFT NYC that will be happening in New York in 2023, as well as to an NFT book. This time she decided to celebrate the end of 2022 with a mind-blowing achievement – by climbing the second tallest building in the world – Merdeka 118 in Kuala Lumpur. She did it together with her boyfriend and creative partner Ivan Beerkus, becoming the first female rooftopper to ever be on Merdeka 118.
In the male world of rooftopping, Angela made a name for herself by not only being a rare female, but also by approaching the highest roofs of the world with a different goal: creating art. For Angela, rooftopping is about capturing a unique moment in time from the point of view inaccessible to most – and then sharing it with the world. In 2021, Merdeka Tower entered Angela’s life and became her greatest creative dream.
Merdeka 118 is a 118-storey, 678.9m-tall megatall skyscraper in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A magnificent feat of architecture, standing tall above the city skyline. It features a streamlined ultra-futuristic design; the hi-tech all-glass panels that beautifully reflect the ever changing weather of the capital city, from gleaming like a diamond on sunny days to turning dramatic blue against the stormy skies; and the impressive top spire, piercing the frequent clouds. For Angela as an artist, Merdeka became the symbol of what’s possible when the human spirit pushes past its limitations.
Topping any skyscraper is always a difficult challenge, as the local authorities in any country, naturally, take legal and safety measures against thrill seekers. But for roofers, finding a way to the top of anew building presents the challenge, both physical and mental, that drives their creative expression, much like the architects’ pushing their creative boundaries in designing each new astonishing skyscraper.
And among all the skyscrapers of the world, Merdeka 118 is guarded on the highest level that Angela and Ivan had ever experienced in a decade of their rooftopping adventures.
Already at 95% completion by December 2022, Merdeka features a strict security system, face ID scanners and cameras on each floor. The tower is considered a private property, so any attempt to climb the tower is considered trespassing and is punishable by Malaysia law. According to local sources, several prior attempts of other rooftoppers to climb the tower resulted in months of prison time. But Angela and Ivan did not waver from their dream.
Angela and Ivan spent many days in Kuala Lumpur trying to devise a plan. It quickly became apparent that the ongoing construction meant constant presence of hundreds of workers on the site and the site featured multiple security cameras from the ground up. They knew this climb would be like none other.
Eventually, Angela and Ivan collected enough intelligence on the building site by observing it from every angle and they decided to make their attempt.
Inside, Angela and Ivan hoped to make it quickly 118 stairs up by foot before entering the spire. But the plan went awry – the building was still full of workers, with night shift replaced by day shift replaced by night shift. Angela and Ivan made it all the way into the top floor, but had to duck and hide inside a pile of construction materials. Тhey ended up waiting out in their tiny hideout for 20+ hours, running out of water and food, unable to use the restroom, stretch their legs, or breathe amidst all the construction dust. The workers were so close to their hiding spot at times, any little sneeze or a snore would have given them away.
It did not help that they ran into posters on the wall of the top floors featuring the photos of other roofers caught inside by the building security before. The posters warned that others were arrested and prosecuted.
At several points of the ordeal both came close to wanting to go back. But they found strength in each other to go on. Their beautiful dream was so close, they could not give it up now.
They finally made it to the spire entrance on their second morning, where they got unbelievably lucky again. Although the spire entrance is usually locked at several steps leading inside, the incredible happenstance allowed Angela and Ivan to arrive there right at the moment when all the gates were up, and so they entered the spire, climbing it all the way up the metal ladder – the equivalent of 53 floors. It took them over an hour, and left them completely exhausted. Angela had to push way past her physical strength to make it to the top – without safety ropes or harness of any kind, all 150 meters of thespire construction right below her.
When Angela and Ivan made it to the top and saw all of Kuala Lumpur below, all the pain and the fears melted away – they did something nobody thought possible. And they did it together.
This was the ascend they will never forget – for both of them it was the ultimate expression of pursuing their dream of pushing the limits of what’s possible, and working together – driven by love that conquers all doubt and fear.