CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA. 18 February, 2013. Indigo Properties, which owns the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, one of the most creative and commercially successful hubs in the country, has transformed the 6-storey high old silo on the property into a state of the art design space, which is home to the Cape Town Creative Academy (CTCA) – a perfect fit with Cape Town’s designation as World Design Capital (WDC) in 2014.
The Cape Town Creative Academy (CTCA) occupies five floors and will offer degree courses in interaction design, audiovisual studies or communication design.
“We’re taking the creative domain out of the playground and placing it on a professional level,” says Francisca Gebert, chief executive officer of CTCA. “It’s all about ‘design thinking’, in which science and art come together and we think beyond prettiness, to functionality, sustainability and usefulness.”
That vision fits in perfectly with Cape Town’s WDC title, given to cities dedicated to using design for social, cultural and economic development.
And also in keeping with this, the Old Biscuit Mill has had a major upliftment effect on Albert Road, Woodstock, with new businesses opening all the time, says Barry Harlen, director of Indigo.
But Indigo had always had its eye on the old grain storage silo standing on the property, and two years ago plans were approved to develop it. “We’re keen to keep as much of its heritage value as possible,” says Harlen.
Heritage is clearly important to the company, as it also restored Victorian buildings in Upper Long Street in the city, leading to the rejuvenation of the area. Indigo owns most of the buildings there.
But tackling a silo is a whole new thing and Harlen explains that they had to think very carefully about how to let light at the same time as keeping the integrity of the structure.
“The building is windowless now, of course, and from our courtyards we’ll have small windows so as to preserve the look as much as possible. The big windows allowing light in will be on the far side. And then we’ll have a frameless glass lift going up the silo on the courtyard side.
“We had no idea what was inside the silo when we started – and we found more silos and tons of concrete. It’s a much bigger project than we thought and it’s been an incredible process of demolition. We’re doing something quite unique, using concrete cutters to cut panes of 5 to 8 tons each and lifting them out with a crane.
“The next step is casting floors. There’ll be five new levels, with the Cocoa Fair in the basement, floors one to five for the Creative Academy, and the top, 6th floor, will have a glass floor and panoramic views,” says Harlen. A restaurant occupies that floor.
For Gebert, the prospect of the Creative Academy opening up soon is incredibly exciting. “My mission, besides good design, is to seriously improve a student’s chance of getting a job. To help this along, we’re working with the Stellenbosch University Business School so we can have entrepreneurial and management courses as well.”
Creatively, they’re working with lecturers like architects, engineers, product designers, artists, photographers and more. “Today, the designer’s input on a new project is as important as engineer’s or architect’s.”
One of the many plusses will be the possibility of subsidies for fees. “From their second year on, students will compete for internships with industry, getting a place based on merit. If they win a place, that industry will help with their fees.”
Prospective students can find more details on the website, www.ctca.co.za.
Submitted by Andrea Vinassa, TorchMedia. Cell: 079 089 9835. For more info contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
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The view from the Cape Town Creative Academy Photographer: TorchMedia