T H E   D E S M O N D   T U T U

P E A C E   C E N T R E

Proposed Facilities for the Desmond Tutu Peace Trust



The proposed Desmond Tutu Peace Centre will be situated in the Cape Town CBD adjacent to the Cape Town International Convention Centre. (CTICC)During the planning of the CTICC the site was identified and earmarked as requiring a portion of public open space to serve the busy intersection opposite the CTICC entry to Convention Square. This was motivated by the City of Cape Town to whom the land belongs, and supported by CONVENCO, representing the CTICC. A lease agreement between the City of Cape Town and the Desmond Tutu Peace Trust has subsequently been concluded.



The Site, at present undeveloped, is bounded primarily by Lower Long Street and Coen Steytler Boulevard. It is situated at the crossing of pedestrian movement routes from the CTICC to the City centre, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront to the City, and provides access to the adjacent North Warf Square. Three major brand Hotels and other corporate offices are situated adjacent to the Site.



The Desmond Tutu Peace Centre requires the following;

Facilities located at ground level (i.e.; street level):


  • A substantial Museum space, dedicated to the TRC process, with Café, bookshop and temporary exhibition facilities

  • Meeting, teaching and auditorium spaces

  • Foyer space allowing for gatherings and linking the various facilities at ground level

  • A contemplative space – connected to the museum, but also accessible to all users of the Centre

  • An outdoor public and urban square


Facilities located at the upper levels of the proposed building:

  • Offices of the ‘Centre Programs’

  • Offices for the Peace Centre Trust, building administration and management

  • The office suite of the Emeritus Archbishop, Desmond Tutu

A lower ground floor basement level provides for on site parking, deliveries, plant rooms, and secure access for visitors and staff at the centre.



In terms of urban planning, the site currently provides for strong urban pedestrian linkages, which the architects have elected to work with and to reinforce. The conceptual holding IDEA of the proposal is based on the concept of “pathways to peace”. Negotiations towards peace follow many differing paths. In a similar way, access to the building and the precinct has been designed in such a way as to provide many options for entry, some of these PATHWAYS or ROUTES may be direct, others indirect and provide for individual choice. Most importantly the building must appear accessible and welcoming.

Images depicting routes and pathways, both urban and rural, both African and traditional Western, both man made and as found in nature itself, are presented in this document as precedent imagery.

Other conceptual references for building character and form include imagery found in both African pottery (the patterned clay pot), Western Art (the doves of peace) and the 2nd World War armoury facility on Robben Island which has, at the closure of it’s notorious past, been invaded by NATURE and PEACE.



The architects propose that the centre must firstly exist in the PUBLIC DOMAIN. Apart from the neighbouring CTICC, the surrounding CBD buildings are predominantly inaccessible to the public. They consist of private corporate domains requiring security clearance to gain access. Similarly the hotels are essentially private domains serving paying guests.

The entire site has been designed as an accessible public urban PARK and SQUARE.

To achieve this, the functions and spaces of the centre at ground level have been covered over by a layer of soft landscaping which in turn is criss crossed with pathways and routes commencing and ending at sidewalk level which present a variety of access opportunities to the public.

Direct access can be gained through the PUBLIC SQUARE. Access can also be gained through the landscaping, over the museum, foyer and teaching spaces, and via ramps back down to the entrance and foyer at sidewalk level. The site can also be traversed, along a number of ROUTES, from corner to corner without physically entering the PEACE CENTRE. It is envisaged that this park can be used by the public to, for example, spend time in after visiting the museum or even to enjoy a lunchtime break. It is planned that the planting be designed to incorporate indigenous water-wise “Cape Fynbos” plants.

The proposed urban design and landscape concept for the site has been presented to the Urban Design Services of the City of Cape Town and with their input, has largely been accepted and endorsed by the City.

Rising out of and above the landscaped parkland, are wings of accommodation housing the private functions of the PEACE CENTRE and the cylindrical tower of the CONTEMPLATIVE SPACE. The wings of office accommodation consist of precast solid/glazed panels.


The CONTEMPLATIVE SPACE is surrounded by a steel ‘reed enclosure’. This enclosure will be constructed of reinforcing bars which will cast a dappled shade onto the surface of the cylinder. The Contemplative Space is surrounded, at square level, by a reed bed which simultaneously treats the grey water and directs entry into the building. It is envisaged that the building in its parts and various functions grouped around the public square creating a village or traditional homestead, will serve the Peace Centre and all people who come to study, research and discuss PEACE, whilst the park and square will also serve the city at large.


Project in association with Design Space Africa.










2011 Green Good Design Awards:

Green Urban Planning / Landscape

Architecture Award

The Desmond Tutu Peace Centre,

Cape Town with Design Space



PUBLICATIONS                           › 


PROJECT PDF                             






macio@vdmma.com | 083 409 9297

lloyd@vdmma.com | 083 290 7877

rikus@vdmma.com | 083 952 8043

johan@vdmma.com | 083 291 1012

ina@vdmma.com | 082 858 7882


161 LONGMARKET STREET  |  CAPE TOWN   |  +27 21 423 5829


  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • LinkedIn - Black Circle
  • Pinterest - Black Circle