Home / Tech / News / How a Decrepit Grain Silo Became South Africa's Mind-Blowing Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

How a Decrepit Grain Silo Became South Africa's Mind-Blowing Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

Poets see the world in a grain of sand. Futurist architect Mat Cash found inspiration in a grain of corn. As group leader at Heatherwick Studio—the avant-garde design firm behind Google’s upcoming Mountain View and London campuses—Cash was tasked with transforming Cape Town’s century-old grain silo complex into the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, which opens today. The museum’s 100 galleries showcase the work of African artists such as Kudzanai Chiurai of Zimbabwe, El Anatsui of Ghana, and Wangechi Mutu of Kenya. The building, shuttered in 2001, was once the tallest in sub-Saharan Africa, its 100-foot bins capable of storing 30,000 tons of wheat, maize, soya, and sorghum. Cash’s design winks at the facility’s original purpose: He carved a kernel-shaped cavity into its heart using a 20-ton hydraulic breaker and industrial wire saw. The resulting cathedral-like atrium is now a celebration of art instead of agriculture.

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