The notion of public space will be in the spotlight at the V&A Silo District as engagement unfolds in the #FREESPACE. The programme of talks, debate and performance, hosted at the Zeitz Museum Of Contemporary African Art (MOCAA) opened on 17 January 2019. The month-long event will offer a South African and international audience the opportunity to discuss and engage with the concept of space from a cultural, architectural, urban and personal perspective – space as a resource, and space as a binding medium between people.


#FREESPACE comprises a range of platforms of expression, an immersive symbolic container installation including artistic interventions, a programme of wide-ranging events and an online platform to share public views.

The initiative emerges against the backdrop of the Venice Biennale in Italy. Alternating every year between Art and Architecture, the exhibition and festival has established a global reputation. The theme of the 2018 edition, the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, was FREESPACE, chosen to describe “a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture’s agenda”. Due to South Africa’s absence from that Biennale, #FREESPACE is partly a South African response to this global event. It intends to create a platform to engage with this curatorial proposition and enable the expression of public and specialist views.

Discussion around space is critical within a South African context.  Like other cities, Cape Town is marked by inevitable contradictions and tensions. Contemporary urban dynamics still tend to perpetuate the patterns of a dissented city, with its class, race and cultural characteristics marking the built fabric.  The urban debate around the resource of space is profound as the post-apartheid city struggles with valuing space, in terms of its sustainable use, ownership, shared meaning, and how it can express the multiplicity of evolving contemporary identities.  In response, #FREESPACE aims to create a temporary space of meaningful engagement, disentangling some of the aspects informing the production of space.

#FREESPACE Programme Details

The container installation

The sculptural intervention outside the Zeitz MOCAA will provoke the multi-layered question of transformation and resilience as a defining aspect of urbanisation in the contemporary African city. In South Africa, with a resolutely pragmatic and inventive approach, industrial containers or vessels of mass commoditisation have been repurposed to a wide range of uses, and adapted for places of human production, retail, pleasure, and habitation.

Inside, the public has access to an immersive experience, reflecting in real time the sharing of #FREESPACE views on the online forum. The visitor is invited to contribute, there and then, to the public debate.

Events and Dialogue

With Zeitz MOCAA and African Centre for Cities, a programme has been established to provoke and stimulate critical discussion. This dialogue takes on various formats of engagement, ranging from talks to panel discussions, workshops and performance. The public events will take place at the Zeitz MOCAA and V&A Silo District on weekends and during evenings in the week to maximise the opportunity for attendance.

The online platform

The online platform represents a call for participation to engage the public to “claim space” by responding creatively to the central question: ‘What does FREESPACE mean for you?’ The public narrative that subsequently unfolds on Instagram and Twitter will be shared on the #FREESPACE website.


Where and when: V&A Silo District from 17 January to 17 February 2019

Visit: or follow @freespaceevents on Instagram and Twitter