A monument for Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been unveiled in the South African city of Cape Town. Designed by Snøhetta and Johannesburg-based Local Studio, in collaboration with Design Indaba, the structure marks the site where Tutu began many of his anti-apartheid protests. Standing as a symbol of peace and democracy, the permanent wooden pavilion forms a new public space in the city’s downtown.
Snøhetta and Local Studio’s design is made from larch wood – a durable, resistant, and tactile material that invites people to interact with it. Named ‘the arch for arch’, the structure consists of 14 intertwined strands of bent wood, representing the 14 chapters of the South African constitution. Together the wooden elements inscribe a globe, celebrating Archbishop Tutu’s role as a unifying figure for the international peace movement. At 9m tall, or nearly three stories high, the scale of the arch envelops visitors as they pass beneath it.
‘The Arch for Arch is more than a monument for Archbishop Tutu,’ say Snøhetta. ‘It builds on the legacy of South Africa’s foremost campaigner for democracy to create a platform for public participation in upholding the constitution. The arch will stand as a permanent tribute to what was sacrificed in the pursuit of democracy, and the vital necessity of protecting these rights for generations to come.’
The first arch was unveiled on the occasion of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 86th birthday on October 7, 2017. A second smaller arch is now located on Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, where the constitutional court is located. Its unveiling took place December 10 to coincide with the 21st anniversary of the country’s constitution.
LOCATION: Cape Town
ARCHITECT: Snøhetta and Local Studio
COMMISSION ORGANIZER: Design Indaba
CIVIL ENGINEERING: Hatch
STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING: The Structural Workshop
TIMBER CONTRACTORS: Swissline Design
WETWORKS, PAVING & ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS: Smart Civils
PHOTOGRAPHS: David Southwood