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ISSUE 65(FREE READ)

Zeitz MOCAA

Architects Heatherwick Studio Location Cape Town, South Africa Category Adaptive Reuse Design Director Thomas Heatherwick Local Project Architect Van der Merwe Miszewski Architects (VDMMA), Jacobs Parkers Architects, Rick Brown + Associates Project Year 2017 Photographs Iwan Baan

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), had its public opening on 22 September 2017 at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. It is the world’s largest museum dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora and is designed by internationally acclaimed designers Heatherwick Studio, based in London. The museum is housed in 9,500 sq metres of custom designed space, spread over nine floors, carved out of the monumental structure of the historic Grain Silo Complex. The silo, disused since 1990, stands as a monument to the industrial past of Cape Town, at one time the tallest building in South Africa, now given new life through the transformation by Heatherwick Studio.

Heatherwick Studio transformed the tightly packed tubes into open areas of contemplation, carving out various oblong shapes to make room for large social spaces and lots of light from overhead windows. Heatherwick wished to clear out large spaces for the galleries, however he was also careful about not eliminating the tubular structure of the building completely.

“We realised we needed to do something that your eye couldn’t instantly predict,” Heatherwick told Dezeen.com. “Our role was destructing rather than constructing, but trying to destruct with a confidence and an energy, and not treating the building as a shrine.” The nearly 20,000 square foot museum is one of many facilities that form the V&A Waterfront, a cultural center dotted with several bars and restaurants on the city’s harbor.

The galleries and the atrium space at the centre of the museum have been carved from the silos’ dense cellular structure of forty-two tubes that pack the building. The development includes 6,000 sq metres of exhibition space in 80 gallery spaces, a rooftop sculpture garden, state of the art storage and conservation areas, a bookshop, a restaurant, bar, and reading rooms. (There are 80 conventional white-cube gallery spaces but more than 100 galleries when you include spaces such as the Centre for Performative Practice, the four-story dust house and the tunnels on the Level -1 basement level.) The museum also houses Centres for a Costume Institute, Photography, Curatorial Excellence, the Moving Image and Art Education.

The R500 million (£30 million) development of Zeitz MOCAA, announced in November 2013, was created in a partnership between the V&A Waterfront and Jochen Zeitz, as a not-for-profit public cultural institution in the heart of one of most visited cultural and historical hubs in Africa. Set on the edge of a natural, historic working harbour, with the iconic Table Mountain as its backdrop, and sweeping views of the ocean, city bowl and mountain peaks, V&A Waterfront attracts up to 100,000 people a day.


 

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