The Science Centre has broken free of the confines of the airless corner of Canal Walk and is now housed in its own building in front of Groote Schuur hospital.
The difference is dramatic. The Centre now stands proudly in its own space, a building recently recognised as the work of architect Max Policansky, “the single most important Modernist architect who spearheaded the introduction of Modernism into the city” according to Andre van Graan, president of the Cape Institute for Architecture. Having stood disused for a startling 8 years, it’s now been renovated to create a light, airy warehouse highlighted by striking paintwork and quotations on the walls such as “Logic can get you from A to B but imagination will take you everywhere” (Albert Einstein).
There are no new exhibits as yet, but standing as they are in a new space each attraction has a new fascination, from the model railway near the entrance of the main hall to the oversized gaming boards to the Murray & Roberts-sponsored building site with its hard hats, wheelbarrows and foam-rubber bricks and cement. Always a winner.
Other standard favourites include the black hole, the hyperbolic slot (a straight stick through a curved hole that gets me every time), the air-propelled rocket, the hovering ball, the massive kaleidoscope mirrors, endless puzzles and tricks-of-the-eye, and a kinetic acoustic sculpture which can be watched for hours.
There’s a R 5 surcharge to use the human gyroscope, but otherwise everything is available to everyone including the 11am workshops and the demos at 1pm and 3pm every weekday.
There is also a café which is great because, frankly, visitors will spend far longer at the Centre than they thought possible. I had to bribe my six year old to leave with the promise of an annual pass so that he can come again and again. I honestly don’t think he’d get bored. Even if he should grow weary of cracking the various ‘secrets’ he’d be happy to go and simply play a game of giant snakes and ladders, or rummage in the massive trough of Zoob pieces. But there are also plans afoot to expand into an even bigger warehouse next door, and to create an outdoors space with plants and water areas.
There’s something there for everyone, from toddlers to teens. And the accompanying parents have just as much fun, crying “Wow, quick – look at this!” just as much as their kids.
The Soundhouse is due to move to the Science Centre from the its current location by the Baxter Theatre, and there are plans for a Lego Centre, and a base for the Living Maths programme, and there’s a chance that the Film School will have a presence on the premises, so that kids can have a chance to experience Foley sound-making and more. And all this just down the road from Cape Town’s own observatory, and next door to the Heart of Cape Town museum, which honours the place and the story of the world’s first successful heart transplant.
Now that it’s found its home, Cape Town Science Centre is going places. Grab a kid and go.
The Cape Town Science Centre opened on Tuesday 28 December 2011 at its new location at 370 Main Rd, Observatory, next to the Groote Schuur hospital.
Time: Mon – Sun 9am to 4.30pm Cost: R 38 all ages (annual passes also available)
Tel: 021 300 3200 / 083 276 9501 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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