It often happens that old industrial architectures come back to life with a different purpose. Not rarely, the rebirth takes place in the form of a museum.

It is the case of Cape Town, South Africa, where a former grain silo dating back to 1921 was transformed into Zeitz MOCAA, the first museum entirely dedicated to African contemporary art. The renovation project brings the signature of London-based Heatherwick Studio.

Zeitz MOCAA: external view. Photo by Iwan Baan.

Thomas Heatherwick, founder of his namesake studio, said: “The idea of turning a giant disused concrete grain silo made from 116 vertical tubes into a new kind of public space was weird and compelling from the beginning. 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. The result was a design and construction process that was as much about inventing new forms of surveying, structural support and sculpting, as it was about normal construction techniques. As the opening approaches we are all looking forward to witnessing the impact of the museum’s ambitious artistic programme and the museum taking its pivotal place in the middle of Africa’s cultural infrastructure.”

Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town. Photos by Iwan Baan.

Externally, the Zeitz MOCAA has remained an imposing landmark on the Victoria & Albert Waterfront and the addition of glazed windows has made it even more iconic. Inside, along with a 10-storey high entrance area, over 6,000 square metres of exhibition space were obtained.

Reinforced concrete has never been so amazing!