with art galleries
Housed in what was once Cape Town’s tallest building is the newly unveiled Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), created by London-based architect Thomas Heatherwick. The institution’s 80 gallery spaces were converted from 42 historic grain silos, storage units which were once used to hold and grade maize from all over South Africa.
Heatherwick Studio transformed the tightly packed tubes into open areas of contemplation, carving out various oblong shapes to make room for large social spaces and lots of light from overhead windows. Heatherwick wished to clear out large spaces for the galleries, however he was also careful about not eliminating the tubular structure of the building completely.
“We realised we needed to do something that your eye couldn’t instantly predict,” Heatherwick told Dezeen. “Our role was destructing rather than constructing, but trying to destruct with a confidence and an energy, and not treating the building as a shrine.”
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Artist Theaster Gates Bought a Crumbling Chicago Bank for $1 and Turned it Into a World-Class Arts Center
One might think that an abandoned 1920s bank on Chicago’s South Side, crumbling from top to bottom—the roof long collapsed, exposing the interior to snow and rain for years—would be destined for a wrecking ball. Like so many other decaying structures in the area, that was certainly the fate of the Stony Island Savings & Loan building before artist, urban planner, and Chicago resident Theaster Gates intervened.
Armed with only a vision to carry him through, Gates acquired the 20,000-square-foot bank for $1.00 from the city of Chicago and set about an unbelievable restoration. This month, amidst all the hubbub of Chicago’s Architecture Biennale, the doors were thrown open and the public was given the opportunity to walk through the new Stony Island Arts Bank. While construction is complete, several details of the bank’s history including peeling paint and damaged ceiling tiles have been preserved to physically merge the past and present.
The Stony Island Arts Bank is a place that proudly defies convention. A community savings and loan bank shuttered since the 1980s turned into a world-class arts center in the middle of a greatly under-resourced community most in need of bold ideas. It’s the kind of place that civic leaders propose and residents dream of, but for a thousand reasons it never seems to materialize. And yet here it is.
Gates’ idea has now manifested itself as a platform for site-specific exhibitions and commissions, artist residencies, and as a home for the Rebuild Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by the artist in 2010 that seeks specifically to foster culture and development in underinvested neighborhoods. In addition, the arts bank houses the vinyl archive of Frankie Knuckles, regarded as the “Godfather of House Music,” as well as 60,000 glass lantern slides from the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute. You can also find the personal magazine and book collection of John H. Johnson, founder of Ebony and Jet magazines.
In a press release Gates describes the Arts Bank as “an institution of and for the South Side,” “a repository for African American culture and history, a laboratory for the next generation of black artists,” and “a space for neighborhood residents to preserve, access, reimagine and share their heritage, as well as a destination for artists, scholars, curators, and collectors to research and engage with South Side history.”
The building’s first exhibition is by Portuguese artist Carlos Bunga, whose installation Under the Skin introduces towering cardboard columns to the bank’s towering first-floor gallery. The facility will undoubtedly be used as a place for black artists, community members, and other individuals to experiment with and engage with the South Side, in an environment Gates refers to as a “laboratory.”
“Projects like this require belief more than they require funding,” Gates tells Fast Company. “If there’s not a kind of belief, motivation, and critical aggregation of people who believe with you in a project like this, it cannot happen. The city is starting to realize that there might be other ways of imagining upside beside ‘return on investment’ and financial gain.”
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In an attempt to better engage the youngest visitors to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, Torafu Architects created a special art gallery just for kids called Haunted House. On entering the exhibition a few familiar artworks appear hung in frames around a large white cube, but something is clearly amiss as everything appears to be moving.
The eyes in a portrait dart back and forth, a pair of hands emerges from Mona Lisa’s face and begins to manipulate the painting, the head of a portrait turns around in loops, and then a wave of relief as children realize this isn’t another crummy art gallery with old boring art. A secret passageway leads to the cube’s interior where almost every artwork can be manipulated or altered from behind, a place where the art can be touched and kids are free to laugh, run and play while interacting directly with some of the world’s most famous paintings. A killer idea.
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