Table Mountain’s big Tata head

2013-08-04 14:00

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If engineers can put a man on the moon, they will be able to put a monument of former president Nelson Mandela on the side of Table Mountain.

That’s the reaction of architect Mark Thomas, head of Mark Thomas Architects in Cape Town, to the proposal of a monument that has set tongues wagging.

Dutch architectural firm Whim and the Mandela op de Fiets (Mandela on the Bike) Foundation are collecting money to design this 60m-high monument on Devil’s Peak and to submit it to the relevant authorities.

But they probably don’t stand a chance of making the extraordinarily ambitious idea a reality.

Paddy Gordon, manager of the Table Mountain National Park, said the design would not be approved if officially submitted, because Table Mountain is a national park and enjoys world heritage status.

Gordon said at first the park’s management thought it was a joke.

The Mandela on the Mountain project was launched last month and the public can donate money to the project’s profile on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo.

Ramon Knoester, the project’s chief architect, wrote on the website that the monument would be an estimated 30m wide and 60m high, and would have facilities such as a restaurant, a theatre and various viewing points.

In reply to questions, he told the newspaper Die Burger it would take years before the appropriate location and final design were approved.

Thomas, meanwhile, said South Africa had a tradition of complex structures, particularly in the mining industry.

With the right engineers and resources, almost any task could be achieved, he said.

The project has so far collected $150 (R1 477) of its target of $100 000.

A Facebook page for the project was launched on July 17, and on July 18 Whim announced the project on its Facebook page, with a view to celebrating Mandela’s 95th birthday.

Knoester emphasised that Table Mountain would not be “demolished” for the monument to be built and that the sketches issued only indicated the idea of a design.

Aad Bak of the Mandela op de Fiets fund said in reply to a query this week that he got the inspiration for the monument four years ago when he visited Cape Town.

He envisaged a monument similar to those of the American presidents at Mount Rushmore in the US.

The monument would be placed at the foot of the mountain and situated close to District Six so that the area’s history would also be remembered.

“The whole plan would be a boost for job creation and the tourism industry,” Bak said in an email.

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