Our first thoughts wrestled with the extraordinary physical facts of the building. There is no large open space within the densely packed tubes and it is not possible to experience these volumes from inside. Rather than strip out the evidence of the building’s industrial heritage, we wanted to find a way to celebrate it. We could either fight a building made of concrete tubes or enjoy its tube-iness.
Unlike many conversions of historic buildings which have grand spaces ready to be repurposed, this building has none. The project became about imagining an interior carved from within an infrastructural object.
The solution we developed was to carve galleries and a central circulation space from the silos’ cellular concrete structure, creating a cathedral-like central atrium filled with light from a glass roof.
The other silo bins will be carved away above ground level to create gallery spaces for the Zeitz MOCAA permanent collection and international travelling exhibitions.
From the outside, the greatest visible change to the Silo’s monumental structure will be the addition of pillowed glazing panels, inserted into the existing geometry of the upper floors, which will bulge outward as if gently inflated. By night, this will transform the building into a glowing lantern or beacon in the harbour.
Group Leader: Mat Cash
Project Leader: Stepan Martinovsky
Team: Simona Auteri, Ruggero Bruno Chialastri, Yao Jen Chuang, Francis Field, Sarah Gill, Xuanzhi Huang, Changyeob Lee, Julian Liang, Débora Mateo, Stefan Ritter, Luke Snow, Ondrej Tichý, Meera Yadave
Makers: Lucie Beauvert, Einar Blixhavn, Erich Breuer, Alex Flood, Hayley Henry, Hannah Parker, Luke Plumbley, Matthew Pratt
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a new not-for-profit institution, will be housed in the historic Grain Silo at the V&A Waterfront, with the V&A committing over R500-million to the development required for the establishment of the Museum. Built in 1921, and at 57m tall, the Grain Silo remains an icon of the Cape Town skyline. This investment will further the development of art in Africa and acknowledges the important cultural and financial contribution the visual arts sector makes.
Considered by many to be the leading collection of contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora, Jochen Zeitz will commit his collection, underwrite the running costs of the Museum and provide a substantial acquisition budget to allow the Museum to acquire new important artworks over time to remain on the edge of contemporary cultural production.
As the most visited site in Africa, with over 24 million visitors annually, the V&A Waterfront is the perfect venue to share the cultural artifacts and ideas of Africa with the world.
V&A Waterfront CEO David Green said: “Given the history and socio-economic role the V&A Waterfront plays in South Africa and the sheer number of visits we achieve annually, we felt this gift to the nation, where commerce meets culture, was entirely appropriate and will correctly continue to position the Waterfront as a social nexus for all Capetonians, South Africans and international visitors who take joy in celebrating culture.”
Zeitz MOCAA will comprise over 9,500 square meters (102,000 square feet) placing it among leading contemporary art museums worldwide. Zeitz MOCAA will be spread over nine floors, of which 6,000 square meters (65,000 square feet) will be dedicated to exhibition space. Through an entire floor dedicated to education, the museum will develop a new art-loving, museum-going audience.
Zeitz MOCAA is set to welcome its first visitors in September 2017. Until the extensive renovations to the Silo complex are complete, selections from the Zeitz Collection will be presented at Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion, a museum-quality temporary exhibition space also at the V&A Waterfront. The inaugural exhibition which opens at Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion will present the work of Swazi artist Nandipha Mntambo.
The recently released independent Economic Impact study done on the V&A Waterfront clearly shows the impact the V&A Waterfront has had on the City, the Province and the country. Zeitz MOCAA will now bring another dimension—a cultural facility of global significance that provides both an intellectual and cultural focus point.
David Green continued: “This is a unique public/private partnership in South Africa that will additionally breathe life into the Silo district and act as a drawcard to a venture that is non-commercial in nature and is designed specifically for the enjoyment of all the continent’s citizens.”
Jochen Zeitz said: “Over the last two decades, Africa has played an important role in both my professional and private life. My collection has been strategically built over many years specifically with the goal to create an internationally relevant public contemporary art museum in Africa. After considering many cities across Africa, I am excited to partner with the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. It is an iconic location in an iconic city, and will be situated in a historic landmark building. This will make my collection accessible to a local, national, continental and international audience.”
The new Executive Director and Chief Curator of Zeitz MOCAA will be Mark Coetzee, who has earned an international reputation and track record for directing cultural institutions that define best practice. Examples of these are the “Miami Model” with the Rubell Collection and a new ground-breaking corporate responsibility model through PUMAVision.
Coetzee has relocated to South Africa after a 25 year international career to lead Zeitz MOCAA. Mark Coetzee said: “Zeitz MOCAA will constitute a re-imagining of a museum within an African context: celebrate Africa preserving its own cultural legacy, writing its own history and defining itself on its own terms. The vision of the V&A Waterfront and Jochen Zeitz will have major impact for the visual art world and for Cape Town.”
The height of the Grain Silo and its strong silhouette gives it a character that has set it apart as an unusual structure within the V&A Waterfront. The reuse of the structure to house Zeitz MOCAA combines ingenuity, resourcefulness and beauty in a way that will be unique for Africa and give greater respect to the work displayed.
Zeitz MOCAA forms part of a master plan for the Silo district that includes mixed-use developments of residential, commercial, leisure and hotel property with the transformed Grain Silo as the central focus of a public plaza. http://www.zeitzfoundation.org