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Monday Mar 03, 2014

Architects breathe new life into Waterfront silo

Cape Town's V&A Waterfront's historic grain silo complex is to be redeveloped as an African contemporary art museum.

A cross-section of the proposed scheme.

Three South African firms based in Cape Town will work alongside London Heatherwick Studio on the project which is expected to cost R500 million.

Van Der Merwe Miszewski, Rick Brown Associates and Jacobs Parker have been named as the local partners for what will be called the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.

Their brief was to reimagine the grain silo complex - disused since 1990 - and including what was once Cape Town's tallest building, into a uniquely African high-quality exhibition space.

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, scheduled to open in 2016, would have 80 galleries, 18 education areas, a rooftop garden and various artrelated centres.

There would also be bookstores, a restaurant and coffee bar and other amenities.

David Green, the chief executive of the V&A Waterfront, said designer Thomas Heatherwick understood the industrial narrative of the building.

'His design respects the heritage of the building, while bringing iconic design and purpose to the building.'

Heatherwick said that unlike other historic buildings, the grain silo offered no grand spaces that could be redesigned.

'How do you turn 42 vertical concrete tubes into a place to experience contemporary culture?'

But the design team has done just that, and the final plan has been described as a 'harmonious union of concrete and metal with crisp white spaces enveloped in light'.

There would be a cross-section through eight of the central concrete tubes to create an oval atrium that can be used for monumental art commissions.

The other silo bins would be carved away above ground level, leaving the rounded exterior walls intact.

Even the underground tunnels would be re-engineered to create unusual spaces for the artists to use.

At night, the building's upper storeys would be transformed into a 'glowing lantern' with the creation of pillowed glazing panels that would be inserted into the top floors.

The Heatherwick Studio is recognised internationally for its work on the London 2012 Olympic Cauldron and the New Bus for London and the award-winning UK pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo 2010.

Pretoria News


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