Prolific architecture firm Heatherwick Studio has updated an abandoned silo in Cape Town with beautiful pillowed glass windows. The former silo building has sat at the heart of the Table Bay harbor since 1924 and, out of respect for the beloved landmark, the architects worked to retain much of the building’s original character during the renovation process. The team managed to retain 42 cylindrical storage silos that form the concrete skeleton, which houses the recently-opened luxury Royal Portfolio hotel, designed by Liz Biden.
The old silo, which was used as an international grain trade and export facility, held court for some 80 years at the heart of Table Bay harbor, but was eventually closed down. As part of the city’s urban redesign plan, the silo was slated to be converted into a useful community-centered space, featuring a hotel and museum. The first part of the project, the hotel, which was designed by The Royal Portfolio, has recently been opened and features six floors of the luxury built in the space that once housed the old grain elevators.
Although the silo’s interior has been converted into a modern space, the building still retains some of its original aesthetic, namely the concrete exterior frame. Contrasting nicely with the concrete, large bulbous windows were installed and provide incredible views of the harbor as well as the Table Mountain in the background, a view which is spectacular from the large open-air rooftop. Additionally, the glass facade will serve as a glowing beacon when illuminated at night.
On the interior, the eclectic design pays homage to the area’s long history while blending in whimsical touches to the atmosphere. According to the designer, Liz Biden, the inspiration for the design was focused on balancing the old with the new, “My goal has always been to pay tribute to luxury and [provide] comfort for our guests,” said Biden. “This has meant balancing the stark and industrial style of the architecture with aspects of classic glamour and modern comfort.”
Funky industrial features can be found throughout the hotel, such as chandeliers made out of original steel rings used inside the grain elevator. In addition to its design, the hotel will constantly feature plenty of local artists on its walls and even has its own private art gallery, The Vault, which will exhibit works by emerging African artists.
Although the hotel conversion has just been completed, there is still more to be done on the overall silo conversion. Now, the focus is on the creation of the space underneath the hotel, which will house the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), also designed by Heatherwick Studio and slated to open in September of 2017.