'Arch for Arch' tribute to Tutu planned for Cape Town

2017-09-27 21:12
Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu at the art museum in Cape Town. (Roger Bosch, AFP)

Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu at the art museum in Cape Town. (Roger Bosch, AFP)

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Cape Town - The finishing touches are being put to a striking monument for Anglican Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu which will be unveiled in Cape Town in October to celebrate his birthday.

Called "Arch for Arch", the dome-shaped monument will be made of carefully bent wood with the 14 "strands" of the structure inscribed with excerpts from South Africa's Constitution.

It will be positioned between the Anglican St George's Cathedral, the Company's Garden, the Slave Lodge and Parliament in the city.

A team of 28 professionals that includes architects, engineers, an archaeologist and even an arborist is working on the labour of love almost every day.

Nordic architectural firm Snøhetta was commissioned by Design Indaba and the project was sponsored by financial services company Liberty.

This was after Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille asked Design Indaba CEO Ravi Naidoo to help create a monument to honour Tutu's legacy.

Inspiration from Luthuli, Mandela, De Klerk, Tutu

The large structure, which was constructed by Swissline Design, was designed to symbolise an arch, with South Africa's people and Constitution as the keystone that prevents all the components from falling apart, explained co-founder of Snøhetta, Craig Dykers, in a video of a presentation at Design Indaba in March.  

Thomas Chapman of Local Studio in Johannesburg was roped in to start work on a prototype of the structure and set about creating a smaller model which was shown to Tutu at this year's Design Indaba.

Dykers named Nobel Peace Prize recipients and politicians Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk and Tutu as arches in South African society, and said the designers decided that they would create a structure that relates to them and the worlds they built.

"And of course Desmond Tutu is a tremendous figure in leading our understanding of a better world," said Dykers.

A model of the Arch for Arch (Design Indaba)

Born in Klerksdorp, Tutu spent a period of his life as a school teacher in Krugersdorp before changing paths and becoming an Anglican priest. A staunch anti-apartheid activist, Tutu also chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where some of the horrors of the apartheid era were revealed to help give affected families closure and for amnesty to be considered for perpetrators who confessed.

He has gone on to become an outspoken critic of the ANC but also dedicates time to other causes, such as tuberculosis research. The disease almost killed him when he was a boy.

ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE PICS: Tutu joins nationwide anti-Zuma protests

86th birthday

Dykers said the site of the monument was chosen because it is a place where the worlds of faith and politics come together.

Neo Maditla, a spokesperson for Design Indaba, said that because of the historic importance of the site, an archaeologist had to be present at all times. Work also had to stop for a while when a concrete slab was found buried in the area. Work could only continue after it was determined that the slab had no historical importance.

The monument will be officially unveiled on Tutu's 86th birthday on October 7.

A Wi-Fi connection will allow visitors to get more information on the monument and Tutu.

A smaller version will be unveiled at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg on December 10, when South Africa's Constitution turns 21.

When Tutu was shown the smaller model of the "Arch for Arch" in March he told the audience that people should pat themselves on their backs because all that he and other anti-apartheid activists had done was articulate the aspirations of the people.

Read more on:    desmond tutu  |  cape town

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