Interactive Africa | Arch for Arch
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Arch for Arch

Arch for Arch

Arch for Arch is the anecdotal name given to Design Indaba’s tribute to one of South Africa’s beloved freedom fighters, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. A commissioned architectural structure that commemorates the work and life of one of South Africa’s most celebrated figures, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the project celebrates its namesake (lovingly nicknamed “the Arch”) and its design is a symbolic, physical representation of his strength and resilient humanity.

A one-to-one prototype of the Arch was unveiled at the finale of Design Indaba Conference 2017 by its creators Snøhetta, co-founder Craig Dykers and Johannesburg-based architect Thomas Chapman. The structure consists of 14 individual arched beams of wood, together forming a dome.

The wooden arches were bent by Croatian boat builder Dario Farcic in Johannesburg. Each strand of wood bears a single line from the South African Constitution’s preamble, signifying the founding principles on which the country is built.

A version of the Arch for Arch structure has been installed near St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town and launched on 7 October 2017 to coincide with Tutu’s 86th birthday. Another will be installed at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg on 10 December 2017 to coincide with the 21st anniversary of the South African Constitution. The Arch for Arch project was completed with the generous help of Design Indaba sponsor Liberty.

Read more about the project on

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

The Arch for Arch project was completed with the generous help of Design Indaba sponsor Liberty.





architecture, design, Desmond Tutu