The Arch for Arch in Cape Town

Cape Town Monument, South African Architecture, Snøhetta Arch Installation, Design Indaba, Photos

The Arch for Arch in Cape Town

Monument for Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa – design by Snøhetta, Local Studio, and Design Indaba

9 Mar 2018

The Arch for Arch

Design: Snøhetta, Local Studio, and Design Indaba

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Snøhetta, Local Studio, and Design Indaba unveil the Arch for Arch, a monument for Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The Arch for Arch in Cape Town
photo © David Southwood

The Monument for Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa stands as a tribute to the human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, affectionally known as “Arch” by fellow South Africans, as well as a monument to peace and democracy.

Monument for Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa
photo © Design Indaba

Designed by Snøhetta and Johannesburg-based Local Studio, in collaboration with Design Indaba, the engineers at Hatch, and generously supported by Liberty, the Arch marks the site where Tutu began many of his Anti-Apartheid protests in Cape Town. Situated between the Parliament and St. George’s Cathedral, the permanent wooden structure creates a new public space in the city’s downtown. The Arch’s significant location will stand as a constant reminder to lawmakers. Its proximity to St. George’s Cathedral, which is the seat of the Archbishop of Cape Town, frames the public entrance to the Company’s Garden that has been in existence since 1652, and is the most popular walk for citizens accessing the cultural precinct of Cape Town.

Monument for Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa by Snøhetta, Local Studio, and Design Indaba
photo © David Southwood

The Arch consists of 14 intertwined strands of bent wood, representing the 14 chapters of the South African constitution. Together the arching wooden elements inscribe a globe, celebrating Archbishop Tutu’s role as a unifying figure for the international peace movement. At 9 meters tall, or nearly 3 stories high, the scale of the Arch envelops visitors as they pass underneath it.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu monument in Cape Town by Snøhetta, Local Studio, and Design Indaba
photo © David Southwood

A traditional arch is supported by opposing forces pushing against one another, held together by a keystone. These structural properties emerged as a core concept for the design, where the Arch stands as a metaphor for the integrity of the country’s democracy whose conceptual keystone is the Constitution of South Africa. The Arch is made of Larch wood, a highly durable and resistant material that will weather gracefully over time, taking on the elements of its surroundings. The warmth of wood was intentionally selected to lend the Arch an intimate, tactile quality that invites people to interact with the structure in a way that differs from the conventional materials people might expect for a memorial structure, such as concrete, steel, or stone.

Monument for Archbishop Desmond Tutu South Africa Monument for Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town
photos © David Southwood

The design is more than a monument for Archbishop Tutu. 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.

Cape Town Monument for Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa
photo © David Southwood

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.

Monument for Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa
photo © Design Indaba

The Arch for Arch – Building Information

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

Cape Town Monument for Archbishop Desmond Tutu
photo © David Southwood

Project Photography: David Southwood and Design Indaba

Monument for Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town images / information received 090318

Location: Cape Town, South Africa




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