This weekend Cape Town will unveil the Arch for “The Arch”.
A commissioned architectural structure, the Arch for Arch is a physical tribute to South Africa’s beloved Archbishop Desmond Tutu and was commissioned by Design Indaba.
Made from 14 arching strands of wood, the 9-metre high structure will reside outside St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town while a second, smaller structure will be installed at Constitution Hill at the end of this year in Johannesburg.
Craig Dykers, architect and founding partner of the architecture firm, Snøhetta, likened how an arch relies on a keystone to avoid collapse to South Africa’s reliance upon its Constitution. He listed Tutu as one of the country’s most iconic figures in terms for the nation’s fight for equality.
Commissioned by Design Indaba, and made possible by the generosity of sponsor Liberty, this commemorative structure was designed by Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta, with support from the Johannesburg-based urban design firm, Local Studio.
Serendipitously, the Nobel Peace Institute – where Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 – is directly across the street from Snøhetta’s Oslo, Norway offices and this subtle connection led the firm’s founder, Kjetil Thorsen, to jump at the opportunity.
14 lines to honour The Arch by Katie de Klee on the presentation of the prototype:
To Archbishop Desmond Emeritus Tutu, our Arch
To the man who speaks truth to power
Who stood always at the heart of the fight
But shows the power of peace and calm.
To our laughing Bishop – sometimes strident, often tender
Man of god and grandfather of the people
Whose broad shoulders comfort the nation
We honour you, our Arch and thank you.
14 lines before 14 chapters, now written on 14 arcs of wood
The bowing wooden arches, at once strong and yielding,
Create a space of sanctuary and stillness for all,
Providing shelter but never blocking the view of the sky
Archbishop Tutu, much loved, we honour you
Accept this as our tribute to you today
Additonal words and images courtesy of Design Indaba