Heatherwick Studio turns Cape Town grain silo into unlikely art museum

A 9,500 sq m art gallery in Cape Town, South Africa, designed by UK architect Heatherwick Studio, has opened to the public.

The Zeitz MOCAA will be the world’s largest museum dedicated to contemporary African art.

Located in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront on Cape Town’s Atlantic shore, the former grain silo was once the tallest building in South Africa, but has been disused since 1990.

Heatherwick Studio say the project "stands as a monument to the industrial past" of the city. 

The site originally contained 42 tightly packed silos and a grading tower, which the team decided to convert rather than demolish. It carved out a central atrium from the cellular concrete structure and created 80 gallery rooms over five floors.

Daylight is filtered into the museum through thick layers of laminated glass adorned with a pattern designed by African artist El Loko.

Concrete walls were cut away from the frame of the grading tower and replaced with windows that create a "kaleidoscope of textures and colours that change throughout the day". 

Work on the project started in 2011, with Heatherwick collaborating with firms such as Mace, Arup and VDMA. 

Images courtesy of Heatherwick Studio/Iwan Baan

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  1. What an incredible building design

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