From Archeology to Architecture: Thomas Heatherwick’s Zeitz MOCAA Art Galleries opens in Cape Town

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British Designer Thomas Heatherwick has converted the inside of some historic grain silos in Cape Town’s well known V&A Waterfront into what is tipped to become Africa’s most important exhibition spaces housing African art.

Heatherwick himself has described it as "the world's tubiest building", and “like a vaulted cathedral”. It is called the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, or Zeitz MOCAA for short, and was once one of Cape Town’s tallest buildings. In order to achieve this unusual conversion, construction involved carving out sections of the tubular interior to connect and create a network of gallery spaces as illustrated in the images that follow.

The newly opened museum is one of a number of facilities that the Heatherwick Studio is creating within what is known as the Silo Precinct – a multi-use area filled with a hotel perched on top of the MOCAA, and surrounded by restaurants and bars.

Just looking at the external and internal spaces – one can see the complexity involved in such a renovation – an archaeological project as well as an architectural one!

Once the long queues have calmed down, we have already planned our studio visit and cannot wait to stand in the main atrium and experience the space for ourselves and all the African art that MOCAA houses.

Reading more about this large scale project, we began to understand how Heatherwick had a real challenge on his hands, as he needed to create appropriate spaces to showcase art in, within internal structures that were predominantly tubular by nature.

The result? A unique building combining history with modernity and bringing Cape Town even further onto the map as one of the African Continent’s major art and design destination cities.

Reference and images all Dezeen