Sika solutions made it possible for the architects and clients to turn their artistic vision into reality when designing and repurposing the old grain silos into the new Zeitz Museum of Cape Town.

The raw concrete silos soar 33 meters into the sky, topped by sparkling glass elements. The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) in Cape Town, which was designed by the renowned architect Thomas Heatherwick of VDMMA Architects, immediately attracts attention. Anyone entering the museum finds themselves in a unique atrium. Part of the silo was sliced open to create this almost sacred appearing space. Art is now displayed across nine floors, including the collection of German entrepreneur Jochen Zeitz, whose name the museum bears.

Sika Helps Transform

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, South Africa: with the technological expertise of Sika, the old grain silos were transformed into a new landmark of Cape Town.
Image: Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, South Africa: with the technological expertise of Sika, the old grain silos were transformed into a new landmark of Cape Town.

A decade ago, there was nothing to suggest that the concrete grain silos built back in 1921 would become a new visual symbol of Cape Town. The storage facility located right next to the port, which once held wheat, soybeans, and millet prior to shipment, stood empty. A new container port had made it obsolete. It would not have taken much for the iconic building to have been demolished altogether. But the location right next to the water is now a major advantage. Guests staying at the boutique hotel created in the old elevator tower have a spectacular panoramic view of city and ocean. However, the salt water had taken its toll on the silos over the intervening decades. “The concrete was in a very bad state before the conversion”, explains Anthony Webster, Sika Area Sales Manager Construction. “The steel reinforcements had started to rust.”

5
Target Markets delivered product solutions

192
tons of repair and grouting mortar used
Close cooperation between clients and Sika ensured the successful project realization (fLTR): Anthony Webster, Sika Area Sales Manager Construction; Jan Ellis, Sika Technical Sales; Albertyn Smit, Divisional Managing Director of WBHO Construction (PTY) Ltd; Lloyd Rubidge, Architect and Director at VDMMA Architects; Tim Cooper, Associate Director of Mace Group; Paul Adams, General Manager Sika South Africa; Kevin Kimbrey, Sika Target Market Manager Sealing & Bonding and Distribution.
Image: Close cooperation between clients and Sika ensured the successful project realization (fLTR): Anthony Webster, Sika Area Sales Manager Construction; Jan Ellis, Sika Technical Sales; Albertyn Smit, Divisional Managing Director of WBHO Construction (PTY) Ltd; Lloyd Rubidge, Architect and Director at VDMMA Architects; Tim Cooper, Associate Director of Mace Group; Paul Adams, General Manager Sika South Africa; Kevin Kimbrey, Sika Target Market Manager Sealing & Bonding and Distribution.

State-of-the-art Solutions to Preserve Building Structure

For a major project like the Zeitz Museum, preserving the existing building structure and combining it with new architecture in a convincing way posed a number of major challenges. The concrete needed to be protected against corrosion, static and aesthetic questions had to be answered, and the glass facades and roof had to be reliably sealed. For each of these aspects, specialist companies were commissioned by the client to define specifications for the construction materials and select the corresponding suppliers.

The grain silos of the Zeitz Museum have been made a dazzling feature by the architect Thomas Heatherwick. Sika provided the state-of-the-art solutions to restore the concrete and preserve the building structure.
Image: The grain silos of the Zeitz Museum have been made a dazzling feature by the architect Thomas Heatherwick. Sika provided the state-of-the-art solutions to restore the concrete and preserve the building structure.

Sika possesses state-of-the-art solutions for all of these construction challenges. But that did not mean the outcome to the tender process was a given.

“We had to convince the decisionmakers of the benefits of our products in every area”, recalls Anthony Webster.

In order to achieve this, he and his team made contact with the commissioned companies at a very early stage. Here it was helpful that Sika had successfully supported a number of construction firms – as well as the developer of the site, V&A Waterfront – on earlier projects. Even more important was to seize the opportunities that arose during the project itself.

“When you set about transforming a building like this so fundamentally, there will always be an element of surprise. We were able to react immediately and offer the developer the right solutions”, says Anthony Webster.

This is precisely the challenge of the holistic solution approach offered by Sika. “We have to know, at all times, precisely what the building project developers will need”, explains Anthony Webster, “and before they have even started to look for a supplier.” Any questions that arise are clarified with Sika specialists as quickly as possible. With this holistic approach, Sika can increase its proportion of products sold in every construction project. “But to do that requires great expertise and unrelenting service orientation”, asserts Anthony Webster. “Once we have gained a client’s confidence, we then get referred in other project areas.” Another prerequisite is reliable logistics, as the products sold must always be delivered to the construction site on time.

35
different Sika products used

6,800
square meters of floor coated with Sikafloor®
Sika’s comprehensive range covers all market development stages. This forms the basis for the success of the growth model: emerging countries are expanding their infrastructures, while in developing countries more rigorous building standards involving higher-quality products and efficiency increases are gaining in significance. In mature markets the focus is on repair and refurbishment.
Image: Sika’s comprehensive range covers all market development stages. This forms the basis for the success of the growth model: emerging countries are expanding their infrastructures, while in developing countries more rigorous building standards involving higher-quality products and efficiency increases are gaining in significance. In mature markets the focus is on repair and refurbishment.

Challenging Concrete Restoration 

Sika helped to solve the many different challenges that arose during this major project in Cape Town. The old concrete was given a water-repellent protective coating and a corrosion inhibitor in order to guarantee long life. Special Sika mortar products were used to ensure that the repairs remained invisible and the characteristic light-brown color of the concrete facade was properly preserved. Extraordinary solutions were also called for when binding the old building structure to the new concrete elements. Here the engineers used, among other things, Sika’s high-performance epoxy resin structural adhesive, which at the same time offers protection against corrosion.

Before Sika won the tender for the coating of the wooden flooring, Sika ComfortFloor®Tough was subjected to a six-month test on the building site. Today the smooth polyurethane surface gives the rooms a modern feel, while at the same time being robust and easy to clean.

Sika also impressed the clients with its sealing solutions for the insulated glass facade and waterproofing systems for the roof, which now serves as an accessible sculpture garden.

Complete Client Satisfaction

The figures testify to the success of Sika’s holistic solution approach. No fewer than 35 different Sika products were used in the comprehensive transformation of the Zeitz Museum. Anthony Webster and his team succeeded in demonstrating the quality of Sika’s products and their highly customer-oriented mindset to engineers and planners in all building areas. This in turn enabled the architects to realize their artistic vision – from the concrete silos and glass facade right up to the roof.