British designer Thomas Heatherwick has transformed a historic silo grain (1924) on Cape Town’s waterfront into the world’s largest museum for modern African art. The new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) was unveiled to the press today ahead of its public opening next week. 

Heatherwick created the nine story, 100,000-square-foot project within the existing tubular structure, which had been disused since 1990. The process of adapting the unusual building typology for public use was “weird and compelling from the beginning,” the designer said in a statement. “The technical challenge was to find a way to carve out spaces and galleries without completely destroying the authenticity of the original building.” 

The new museum comprises 65,000 square feet of exhibition space across 80 galleries, as well as a rooftop sculpture garden, art and conservation areas, a bookshop, restaurant and bar, and reading rooms. A large atrium scooped out of the original concrete tubes serves as the central gathering point. 

Heatherwick also designed a recently completed luxury hotel that occupies six floors above the museum, within the grain elevator portion of the building.