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Thomas Heatherwick to create new Art Museum in Cape Town, South Africa

by Katie Buckley | 08 Jul 2014

The new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in South Africa's Cape Town will be designed by Thomas Heatherwick – marking the architect's biggest museum project to date.

Zeitz MOCAA is to be a new non-profit cultural space alongside the V&A Waterfront, one of the most visited attractions in South Africa. As part of a masterplan - Heatherwick will transform an historic grain silo into 9,500sq m (102,000sq ft) of leisure space spilt across nine floors. This will include 6,000sq m (65,000sq ft) museum and exhibition space, with a dedicated floor for education.

Morphing a Grain Silo into an outstanding Art Museum is expected to present a significant challenge and Heatherwick Studio’s plans include keeping the character of the building to “enjoy its tube-iness.” The solution that they have proposed – which is currently underway – is to carve out galleries from the shell of the silo, allowing movement, space and light, whilst keeping the structure – and its 42 tubes – relatively intact.

The outside of the silo will see the most visible changes. Glass panels are being inserted into the exterior of the upper floors, and will curve outwards, creating the illusion of inflation. The site will become much more welcoming at night as the front will be lit up like a beacon.

Built in 1921 and standing 57m (187ft) tall, the silo is still a major feature of Cape Town’s skyline – making it a fitting setting for a cultural facility of global significance. The new executive director and chief curator of Zeitz MOCAA, Mark Coetzee, commented that: “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.”

Expected to open in the last quarter of 2016, excerpts from the Zeitz Collection will be presented in a temporary pavilion on site until the building is ready.

The new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in South Africa's Cape Town will be designed by Thomas Heatherwick – marking the architect's biggest museum project to date. Zeitz MOCAA is to be a new non-profit cultural space alongside the V&A Waterfront, one of the most visited attractions in South Africa. As part of a masterplan - Heatherwick will transform an historic grain silo into 9,500sq m (102,000sq
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Glass panels will be set into the existing exterior of the 1920's Grain Silo / Heatherwick Studio
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