Cape Town is South Africas’ cultural melting pot. The city is full of creative talent and is home to many bold and colorful contemporary art pieces. On our recent visit, we visit The Silo Hotel. This hotel is home to a carefully curated collection of artwork selected by The Royal Portfolio owner Liz Biden. During our visit, Irene Boaventura gives us a tour of their impressive gallery. Here are some of our highlights, plus a closer look at the incredible architecture and design of The Silo.
The lobby of Contrast & Juxtapositions
One of our favorite pieces from the collection is that of well-established Cyrus Kabiru and his “C-Stunner” series. His artwork focuses on repurposing old and unused materials, usually from his hometown in Nairobi. Kabiru turns these castaway materials into beautiful African masks and glasses, such as the one displayed in The Silo Hotel lobby. His imagination and positive perspective in seeing the beauty in waste create an exciting contrast between old and new.
The theme of paradox continues throughout the lobby, where vibrant pieces of African art and splashes of color meet the stone walls of the industrial grain silo. Athi-Patra Ruga’s “The Night of the Long Knives” is particularly eye-catching, with an unpredictable mix of items and colors within the piece. Frances Goodman’s “Blue Velvet” also adds striking tones and textures against the concrete backdrop.
Not only is The Silo Hotel full of culture-rich African art, but the building itself is something to marvel at. The complex sits high above the waterfront and once claimed the title of Cape Town’s tallest building. Before 2001, the structure was an unused former grain silo. Heatherwick Studio completely transformed the space into a unique geometric delight. The designer kept the original industrial structure and added modern twists for an interesting juxtaposition, an ongoing theme throughout the hotel.
The top part of the tower is home to hotel rooms and superior suites. The architect’s addition of paneled laminated glass with a slight outward curvature gives hotel guests unbelievable views of Table Mountain and the waterfront of South Africa’s Mother City below. Yet, from ground level, the intelligent design also holds beauty. During the day, the curved glass reflects different portions of the vibrant landscape for a playful kaleidoscopic effect. Once darkness falls on the city, the building warmly lights up the streets.
Showcasing the Silo’s Tubular
Deeper down in the silo’s core is where you’ll find the exhibition spaces. The architects work around the natural tubing of the silo to preserve its tubular structure while creating striking gallery spaces. The final result is unique and wondrous, with the Zeitz MOCAA African art museum being arguably the most spectacular. The designers have carved out a huge, vaulted atrium inspired by the shape of a single grain and spanning the height of the interior.
Travel-Inspired Color Schemes
Inside the hotel rooms is another delight for artists and designers. Despite the lack of wall space due to the building’s glass windows, each room is as captivating as the view outside and the artwork displayed in the galleries below. Of course, no part of The Silo Hotel is without purpose. Liz Biden uses bold prints and fabrics found on her travels to give each room interior its unique twist and color scheme. After finding a material she loves, the bespoke furniture is traditionally handcrafted by Moorgas & Sons in Cape Town. This ensures no two rooms are the same.