heatherwick studio’s zeitz museum of contemporary art africa (MOCAA) is the world’s largest museum dedicated to african contemporary art and its diaspora. located in cape town’s V&A waterfront area in south africa, the nine-floor, 9,500 square foot interior reinvigorates the grain silo complex as a symbol of cape town’s industrial history. the silo had fallen into disuse in 1990 with the introduction of new technologies. heatherwick’s reinterpretation of this historical monument transforms the symbol of economic progress into a cultural epicenter.

 

UPDATE: this project won the ‘new and old – completed buildings’ category at the 2018 world architecture festival.

heatherwick zeitz MOCAA
thomas heatherwick’s london-based firm carved out the historic grain silo complex for the design’s inspiration
image © iwan baan

 

 

heatherwick and his london-based firm have created a monumental facade that stands out among the V&A waterfront’s surrounding buildings. heatherwick describes one of the design challenges when he said, ‘we were excited by the opportunity to unlock this formerly dead structure and transform it into somewhere for people to see and enjoy the most incredible artworks from the continent of africa. the technical challenge was to find a way to carve out spaces and galleries from the ten-storey high tubular honeycomb without completely destroying the authenticity of the original building.’

heatherwick zeitz MOCAA
the historic grain silo complex is a symbol of 20th century industry in cape town
image © iwan baan

 

 

the zeitz MOCAA project was announced in 2013 and designboom has followed the project’s development throughout the process. the final design includes 6,000 square meters of exhibition space that makes up 80 galleries dedicated to promoting african contemporary art. the structure also includes a rooftop garden, conservation labs, a bookshop, restaurant, and bar.

heatherwick zeitz MOCAA
the museum is located on the V&A waterfront in cape town with 10,000 people visiting the area each day
image © iwan baan

heatherwick zeitz MOCAA
the interior has 9 floors and 80 gallery spaces included in the overall 9,500 square meter space
image © iwan baan

heatherwick zeitz MOCAA
the space also includes a rooftop garden, bookshop, restaurant, and bar 
image © iwan baan

heatherwick zeitz MOCAA
the construction process involved inventing new forms of surveying, structural support, and sculpting
image © iwan baan

heatherwick zeitz MOCAA
the institution was made possible by a partnership between V&A waterfront and entrepreneur jochen zeitz
image © iwan baan

heatherwick zeitz MOCAA
the interior atrium is like a cathedral-like space at the center of the museum
image © iwan baan

heatherwick zeitz MOCAA
heatherwick includes 106 vertical tubes of the giant, disused grain silo to make up the structure
image © iwan baan

heatherwick zeitz MOCAA
the waterfront area maintains a strong relationship with south africa’s industrial past
image © iwan baan