Green Peace

By Ashworth Africa, June 25, 2010

The roads to peace are seldom without their obstructions. And there is no route to peace either; the paths are as numerous as the souls who walk them. That’s why the architects designing the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre (DTPC) have created ‘pathways to peace’ around it.

Planning by the design teams from two award-winning architect firms, Van der Merwe Miszewski Architects (VDMMA) and DesignSpaceAfrica, is at an advanced stage and construction is expected to start towards the end of 2010, providing the necessary funds are in place. As an international non-governmental organization, the DTPC is reliant on donations to raise the R275-million necessary for its construction. The site is a developer’s dream. Worth R75-million, this prime piece of land was donated by the City of Cape Town. It is opposite the Cape Town International Convention Centre and adjacent to the Southern Sun The Cullinan hotel, on the fringe of the financial district.

Archbishop Tutu says, ‘My wife Leah and I have a dream to see a global centre for peace being built. Not a static building but a truly interactive space of courage, tolerance, love and hope. We have always known that peace will be built on these four pathways. At this Centre, we will work towards preserving the legacy of peacemakers globally, and develop and run programmes that will foster and sustain global peace. Creating this Centre is building a future where our children and grandchildren will understand the true meaning of peace, where the marginalised will have a voice and leaders will be given an opportunity to reflect, engage and act in peaceful ways. It is important that the young generations of this world are inspired to work for peace.’

Several heavy hitters are involved with the DTPC. Patrons include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, HRH Princess Irene of Greece, celebrity Harry Belafonte, David Hope, archbishop of the Anglican church in the UK, and talk-show host Oprah Winfrey.

The focal point of the building will be a ‘contemplative space’. Set in the middle of the building, it will have at its centre a flame symbolising life and hope. A cylindrical tower will be erected with a glass roof to allow natural light to filter through. Archbishop Tutu feels strongly about this space, say the designers. ‘We would like the building and the spaces we create to reflect the personality and character of the archbishop as much as possible,’ Anya says. ‘The fact that the “contemplative space” allows for meditation and reflection, and yet connects the participant with the outside world, is an expression of this character, meaning that if at that point you may be on your own, in a moment of reflection, you should be always connected with the outside world … That is the idea.’

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