42 vertical concrete tubes and a distinct lack of open space might not sound like ideal conditions for an exhibition of modern African art, but for Thomas Heatherwick it’s just another puzzle to solve. The architect plans to integrate the heritage of an industrial grain silo into the new V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, which will feature artwork from the personal collection of Jochen Zeitz, a German collector, entrepreneur, and ex-CEO of Puma.
The V&A Waterfront’s galleries will be carved from silos’ cellular concrete structure, while an overhead roof will be opened to create an expansive atrium flooded with light. Cylindrical lifts rise inside bisected tubes, and stairs spiral upwards like giant drill bits, the shafts of which have been capped with strengthened glass that can be walked over. Throughout the building, thick layers of render and paint will be removed to reveal the hidden beauty of the original concrete.
Outside the building, special pillowed glazing panels will be inserted into the grain elevator’s upper floors, which bulge outward as if gently inflated. When darkness falls, the building’s upper stories will light up and illuminate the harbor like a lighthouse.
The museum is expected cost 500 million rand by the time it’s finished, and in homage to Jochen Zeitz’ generous donations, the museum will be named the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA). In addition to an an impressive 80 galleries, the building will also feature a variety of education facilities and interactive spaces built into the old tunnels beneath the building. There will also be a rooftop sculpture garden, an art conservation facility, and bookshops, cafes and other amenities.
Heatherwick announced the project at this year’s Design Indaba conference, and he plans to partner with local firms such as Van Der Merwe Miszewski, Rick Brown Associates, and Jacobs Parker.
Images by Heatherwick Studio