Grain Silo

Heatherwick Studio, VDMMA, RBA, JPA

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.

Client and Developer: V&A Waterfront
Design Architects: Heatherwick Studio
Executive Architects: Van der Merwe Miszewski Architects, Rick Brown and Associates, Jacobs Parker Architects
Project Manager: Mace
Quantity Surveyor: MLC
Structural Engineer: Sutherland Engineers
Façade Engineers: Arup
Mechanical Engineer: Arup
Electrical Engineer: Solution Station
Landscape Architect: Planning Partners
Acoustic Consultant: SRL
Heritage Consultant: Nicolas Baumann Urban Conservation and David Worth
Environmental Consultant: Eco Safety
Principal Contractor: WBHO