A remarkable monument for Anglican Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu is receiving its finishing touches, and will be unveiled in Cape Town in October to celebrate his birthday.

Named “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.

The monument 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, including architects, engineers, an archaeologist and even an arborist are working on the monument almost every day.

With its beams bent by Croatian boat builder Dario Farcic, the large structure 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 recipient and politicians Albery 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.

Photography: Design Indaba

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

A spokesperson for Design Indaba, Neo Maditla, said that because of the historic importance of the site, an archaeologist had to be present at all times. Work 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.

A Wi-Fi connection will allow visitors to get more information on the monument and Tutu. The monument will be officially unveiled on Tutu’s 86th birthday on October 7.

A smaller version of the monument will be unveiled at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg on December 10, on South Africa’s Constitution’s 21st birthday.

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.

Featured image K-leigh Siebritz/HSM Images

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