Heatherwick Studio : Zeitz MOCAA et Silo Hotel

Originating from the rehabilitation of a silo in Cape Town (South Africa), the tallest building in South Africa built in 1921, the Zeitz MOCAA is today a hotel and museum of contemporary art, and not the least. It possesses the largest collection of works on the continent, hitherto largely neglected by cultural institutions. A major project realized by the British architect Thomas Heatherwick, known for these works mixing art and engineering.

Spread over nine floors, the 9 500 square meters of the institution retain and pay tribute to the massive concrete architecture of the former grain elevator, symbol of the city's industrial past. If the main area - 6 000 square meters - dedicated to welcoming visitors, includes 80 exhibition spaces, the rest of the building houses conservation laboratories, a bookshop, a restaurant, a bar and a hotel with a roof terrace with an infinity pool.


Located between the sea and the mountains, on the port of Cape, the building, consisting of a low part and a tower 27 meters high, detonates by its facade, both massive and aerial. The lower part, welcoming the museum, thus remains completely concreted and is surmounted by a framework beam-posts whose voids are filled by faceted walls of reflective glass, which hosts a hotel. Jewels set in a monumental industrial construction fallen into disuse in the 1990 years.

Inside, the challenge consisted in keeping as much as possible all the silos characteristic of the building and its history, while inserting there a multitude of galleries of the Zeitz MOCAA. For this purpose, the contractors realize large rounded openings in the concrete, creating an impression of height in areas that were once very segmented. The visitor is now in an imposing space with the airs of Gothic cathedral. Thus, even before being subjugated by the African and international collections, he is caught up by the grandiose volumes that unfold before him.

"The result of the creative and architectural process is almost as close to inventing new forms of structural and sculptural support as to build normally. " Thomas Heatherwick, architect and founder of Heatherwick Studio

A place equal to its architectural and cultural promises, which contributes to the artistic development of Africa.

To learn more, visit the Heatherwick Studio website

Photographs: Iwan Baan

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