CIfA 2019 Award for Architecture: Grain Silo – Heatherwick Studio, VDMMA, RBA, JPA


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Once the tallest buildings in Africa, the grain silos of the waterfront are today carved away to accommodate contemporary African art. This carving away of the almost 100-year-old concrete silos makes an interesting commentary to the debate around African space and how this can be imagined within the very Eurocentric Waterfront-built fabric.

Central to the idea of African space is the common space. The Zeitz re-imagines this within the confines of the densely stacked silos through a process of mending and then carving away. A concrete structural lining was cast to re-enforce the existing concrete silo walls whereafter a common space is carved out to reveal a cavernous space that is cathedral-like. Visitors are immediately drawn upwards by the light from above the space.

Vertical circulation is accommodated within two adjacent silos with a spiral staircase and lift allowing the visitor to experience the atrium space as one ascends and descends. The top of the atrium space is fitted with a structural glass floor for viewing the city from the roof courtyard. Conventional galleries are arranged around this central space housing a variety of artwork. The building adds to the architectural dialogue of diversity and brings a valuable asset to the city.

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