Part of the Project
“I hope they get my nose right.”
In this cheeky response at the unveiling of a monument in his honour at the Design Indaba Conference 2017, Archbishop Desmond Tutu captured what we know and love about him.
His good humour, an infectious laugh and unwavering compassion makeup the struggle stalwart’s magnetism.
Design Indaba captured his legacy in the Arch for Arch, a wooden monument alongside 14 lines from the Constitution of South Africa’s preamble.
Designed by Nordic architecture studio Snøhetta with support from Johannesburg-based urban design firm Local Studio, the project represents the kind of cross-global collaboration and partnership that Tutu would be proud of.
The structure that was unveiled in Cape Town consists of 14 individual arched beams of Siberian Larch wood, which together form a dome.
The 14 pillars of the Arch for Arch will stand as the physical embodiment of the 14 chapters of South Africa’s Constitution.
It was unveiled to the public at the Company’s Garden in Cape Town on 7 October, to commemorate Tutu’s 86th birthday.
The Arch for Arch, as it’s affectionately been named, is a project that we undertook at a time when the value of legacy, history and visibility in public spaces has formed part of the national and international debate.
With the fall of the Cecil John Rhodes statue at the command of student protestors in 2015 and the continued debate around confederate statues in the USA, it’s clear that people are asking: How will we our legacies take pride of place in the cities we occupy?
At the same time, South Africa has been rocked by a number of attacks on its democracy making it easy to forget that we still have heroes.
The Arch for Arch is the physical embodiment of the tools found in South Africa’s Constitution and a reminder of the true freedoms this remarkable document affords us as a nation.
Its location between St George’s Cathedral, the House of Parliament and the Slave Lodge means that, like its namesake, it functions as a bridge between church and state as well as connecting our future with our past.
The space will be a light and fun opportunity for the public to engage with the values embodied by Tutu who has tirelessly worked towards empathy, peace and reconciliation.
It’s for this reason 14 lines of the Constitution’s preamble will stand alongside the 14 pillars of the Arch for Arch monument.
Offering shelter from the elements for Cape Town’s pedestrians and space for solitude and reflection, the structure is both functional and visually striking.
The space will also be wifi-enabled. Using a QR-code, the public will find themselves immersed in the principles that Tutu has embraced throughout his career.
But, one might ask, what Design Indaba has to do with a project like this?
As a 22-year-old organisation working in the creative field, Design Indaba was honoured to have been approached by Mayor Patricia de Lille to help conceptualise a monument to honour Nobel Peace Prize-winning Archbishop Tutu.
We believe in creative answers to social issues. It’s our mandate to seek answers through design.
In 2014, we sought to shine a light on violence against women and children through the Another Light Up campaign which, through a public art installation, raised funds for street lights in Monwabisi.
Our 10x10 housing project asked if the disadvantaged could be housed with dignity.
And with our SONOP campaign last year we managed to take a school, in Paarl, off the grid to show that innovation and sustainable design can give agency to disadvantaged people.
Through the Arch, we hope to do three things: We want to celebrate the legacy and contributions of struggle hero Desmond Tutu.
Too often we eulogise those who have passed without properly thanking them during their time with us.
Secondly, we want to erect a physical monument that is not only representative of what it means to be South African, but also representative of the Constitution.
Last, we hope to drive home our mission that a better world can be created through creativity.