#ArchForArch 1: Is democracy a design project?

Design Indaba and Liberty partnered on the series to tell the story of the man behind the Arch For Arch monument in Cape Town.

Part of the Project

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille approached Design Indaba CEO, Ravi Naidoo to help solve an interesting problem in the city: how can the city best honour Archbishop Desmond Tutu?

Naidoo, with 22 years of experience organising the world's biggest design conference was up to the task. He roped in Liberty, who came in as sponsors of the project. Then using the Design Indaba Conference stage as a starting point, and taking into account Archbishop Tutu's global status and the role he played in helping to bring an end to apartheid, they got to work.

The result is a collaborative monument called Arch For Arch, which brought together architects from South Africa (Local Studio) and Norway (Snohetta) as well as a diverse team of roleplayers to help build the monument.

Months of work culminated in the #ArchForArch launch to celebrate Archbishop Tutu's 86th birthday. He celebrated his birthday among friends as well as members of the public at the St George's Cathedral.

The monument is located in a strategic spot on the oldest avenue in the country where one can see parliament, the St Georges Cathedral, as well as the Slave Lodge. The monument, made up of 14 arches of wood, celebrates the South African Constitution, which has 14 lines as well as the preamble, which also incidentally has 14 lines.

The monument is a symbol of Archbishop Tutu's strength and resilience as well as a reminder of the value of the Constitution.

Over the next six episodes the Design Indaba team looked at Archbishop Tutu's life.

The team visited his hometown of Klerkdorp, Soweto where he once lived as a neighbour to Nelson Mandela and the Constitutional Court to give us background on the importance of our Constitution.

We chatted to former Constitutional Court justice Albie Sachs, and Bishop Margaret Vitue who was ordained by Archbishop Tutu as one of the first women bishops in the Anglican Church. We also take a look back at the celebrations of the Archbishop's birthday where he received birthday messages from his friends including Bono and the Dalai Lama.

The series is our way of interrogating democracy as a design project and taking a closer look at how the country's spatial design, the faith community, human rights, the Constitution and Archbishop Tutu himself came together.

To celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the country's Constitution, a second smaller version of the Arch For Arch monument will be unveiled at Constitution Hill on 10 December. 

Design Indaba's media partner Media 24 has been engaging the public to send in their views on what the Constitution means to them and how it has changed their lives using the #ArchForArch hashtag and talking to prominent South Africans like Zackie Achmat and former Constitutional Court justice Albie Sachs.