Imagine forty-two 33 metre high concrete tubes, each with a diameter of 5.5 metres, with no open space to experience the volume from within. Imagine redesigning this into a functional space that will not only pay tribute to its original industrial design and soul but will become a major, not-for-profit cultural institution housing the most significant collection of contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora.
The brief given to Heatherwick Studio was to reimagine the Grain Silo Complex at the V&A Waterfront with an architectural intervention inspired by its own historic character. The project called for a solution that would be unique to Africa and create the highest possible quality of exhibition space for the work displayed inside. The V&A Waterfront’s challenge to repurpose what was once the tallest building on the Cape Town skyline caught the imagination of internationally acclaimed designer Thomas Heatherwick and his innovative team of architects. This was a chance to do more than just appropriate a former industrial building to display art, but to imagine a new kind of museum in an African context.