S I L O   P R E C I N C T 

'Public Realm' - V&A Waterfront



VDMMA in association with Heatherwick Studio and MDL

The intention for the Public Realm Urban Space design is twofold –

  • To secure by design the ‘space’ about, and encircling the base, of the 1920’s Historic Grain Silo building

  • To obviate the ‘condition’ referred to as SLOAP – ‘Space Left Over After Planning’

No’s 3, 4 and 5 and the ‘PUBLIC REALM’ evolved through numerous variations as suitable occupancy’s were sought and Town Planning restrictions required resolution. However, the development of the Precinct idea rests with the premise originally established for the ‘siting’ of SILO No 1, which in turn became the catalyst for the Precinct.

In time, the decision to give primacy to the Grain Silo during the commencement of the design for No 1 Silo, had been well established and understood by the multiple teams of Professionals working in the Precinct.

The design idea for the Precinct simultaneously guided and influenced many of the design decisions made during the resolution of Buildings No 2, 3, 4 and 5 and importantly, visa versa.

The idea sought to create a multiplicity of Urban space types. This was reinforced by fragmenting the buildings which enclose the space in order to avoid monolithic and only one dimensional interfaces between the buildings and the Public Realm open space. This intent was overlaid with extensive wind analysis, sun projection studies, anticipated uses and circulation patterns. The proposals put forward that the ‘front doors and addresses’ of each building in the Public Realm, should be clearly identifiable and understood.

Existing and new circulation routes required to be accommodated and comprise of some 8 – 10 vehicular access and egress points for parking and Quayside industries, bus and taxi routes including stop and go points, access for the Hotels, Art Gallery, Commercial Office space, residential apartments, retail and Gallery deliveries, waste disposal, fire tender, non-motorised transport, and most importantly – pedestrian access throughout the Precinct. Pedestrian access and movement has been prioritised over all other forms of movement.

Open space uses vary from circulation to sedentary chilling and ‘pavement café’. (And a variety of combinations thereof). The choice of materials and development of detail followed suit – including spaces for exhibition, green park landscaping for repose, paving for sidewalk cafés, fixed and flexible seating and bus and taxi waiting areas. Light fittings, waste re cycling bins, signage, street edges, planters, bollards for traffic control and seating are ‘elements’, which serve the uses of the Public Realm spaces. The ideas are further underpinned by the proposed Precinct wide finishes chosen to be ‘workman like’, utilitarian and ‘fit for purpose’, within the overarching ethos of a multifunctional and working Harbour. The design for high level lighting was prompted by the light fittings installed in the adjacent Syncro Lift, used for Shipping repairs and maintenance.

With VDMMA being responsible for the design of No’s 2, 3, 4 and 5, this  allowed for the simultaneous design development of all the thresholds enclosing the space of the Public Realm. The view was taken that the fragmentation of the surrounding buildings would allow for variety, eschew monotony and it is hoped, allow for the unexpected within the Public Realm. However, the intent which allows simultaneously for a neutral backdrop, against which any type of event may occur, was also taken into consideration. Space use anticipates temporary and fixed exhibitions, commuters going to and from work, Office workers breaking for lunch, meeting or avoiding colleagues, apartment dwellers shopping for groceries. Café dwellers.

The entire Precinct covers a multi storey parking basement for 2600 cars. Access from the basement to the individual buildings on top is purposely routed via shuttle lifts, which require arriving users to firstly enter the Public Realm, prior to disappearing behind the closed doors of their destinations.

To view the individual silo's each:

Silo No 1 (Allan Gray)


Silo No 2 (Residential & Retail)


Silo No 3 (Apartment Building)


Silo No 4 (Virgin Active Gym)


Silo No 5 (Office & Retail)


Silo No 6 (Office & Retail)








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macio@vdmma.com | 083 409 9297

lloyd@vdmma.com | 083 290 7877

rikus@vdmma.com | 083 952 8043

johan@vdmma.com | 083 291 1012

ina@vdmma.com | 082 858 7882


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