The Old Granary Building
One of Cape Town’s oldest and most storied buildings, presumably built by slaves and strongly associated with the setting down of
colonial roots, has undergone a physical and spiritual metamorphosis to become the new home of the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.
The Old Granary has retained its architectural integrity while being retro-fitted to suit the needs of a modern foundation and its work.
After having been declared a provincial heritage site in 2017, The Foundation took occupation of the Old Granary in 2018.
The Receding Tide
When first developed, the Granary occupied space close to the then-Table Bay shoreline. Today, due to land reclamation, Table Bay has
been pushed back and the Castle and Old Granary are relatively far from the sea. Early paintings and sketches of the Granary place the
it in relatively open space, a stone’s throw from the Grand Parade, where slaves were sold in 1658 and a newly-liberated Nelson
Mandela first addressed the nation in 1990.
Fabric of the building: Neo-classical meets Cape-Dutch
Anton Anreith, Herman Shutte (both German) and Louis Thibault (French) conceived and developed the neo-classical
Old Granary in 1814.
Anreith, an artist and master sculptor,
was primarily responsible for the
sculptures adorning the building.
Schutte, a master builder, surveyor and
architect became the Granary’s
inspector (also responsible for the
Mouille Point Lighthouse).
Thibault, an engineer, architect and
surveyor, was believed to be
responsible for the design of the
Granary through Anreith’s involvement
at the Customs House.
The Granary provided a suitably officious backdrop for important public announcements, such as election results. The façade statues are that of Neptune and Britannia, god of the sea and personification of Great Britain, respectively.
The central design on the pediment is a carved British coat-of-arms straddled by a Scottish unicorn and English lion. Above and beneath the coat-of-arms are the French phrases: Dieu at mon droit (God and my right), motto of the British monarch, and Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil to him who evil thinks), the motto of the British Chivalric Order of the Garter. The date on the pediment is 1814.
The Foundation and City agreed to a restoration philosophy that re-imagined existing space, as far as possible, rather than breaking
things down and starting from scratch. Walls of glass are used to create office and archiving accommodation, maximising natural light
and enabling one to visualise the original sizes and shapes of the building. Suitable environmental control and lighting technologies
are retro-fitted without interfering with the building’s original structural integrity.
Modern exhibition spaces have been created, framed by old brick walls and curious windows and entrance ways
and a modern glass walkaway.