The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), inaugurating on 22 September 2017 at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront was revealed. It will be the world’s biggest museum devoted to contemporary art from Africa and is designed by globally acclaimed top interior designers Heatherwick Studio, based in London.
Claiming 6,000 sq meters of exhibition space, the museum is set in 9,500 sq meters of custom-designed space, expanded over nine floors and cut out of the grand building of the historic Grain Silo Complex. Incorporated in this are “80 gallery spaces, a rooftop sculpture garden, state of the art storage and conservation areas, a bookshop, a restaurant, bar and reading rooms.”
The gallery and atrium space at the center of the cape town museum has been shaped by the silo’s previous building of forty-two tubes that pack the construction.
“The technical challenge was to find a way to carve out spaces and galleries from the ten-story-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.”
The finished carved tubes over the atrium area let sunlight in from overhead through deep sheets of laminated glass, fitted with a design commissioned from the West African artist El Loko. The frit forms a walkable cover for the upper-level sculpture terrace, providing daylight inside while protecting from too much heat forming up inside.
In the grading pillar, concrete walls were cut away within the structural framework to form new three-dimensionally formed windows that show a kaleidoscope of compositions and tones that vary during the day. At night, the brightness of lights in modifies the column into a lighthouse in the harbor.
Having first been advertised in November 2013, the cape town museum is a partnership between the V&A Waterfront and Jochen Zeitz, as a non-for profit social institution in one of the most attended cultural and historical hubs in Africa, while Heatherwick Studio is responsible for the design.