The Nobel Peace Center and Snøhetta to create a “peace bench”

Ill Lars Tornøe 

A tool for dialogue is to be unveiled outside the UN Headquarter this summer. Snøhetta, Hydro and Vestre have joined forces to create a peace bench on commission from the Nobel Peace Center.

PublishedJun 19, 2019
AuthorIngvill Bryn Rambøl


On Nelson Mandela Day, 18 July 2019, a bench made in the spirit of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate will be unveiled at the UN Headquarter in New York. The bench is designed by Snøhetta om commission from the Nobel Peace Center, constructed by Vestre, and Hydro has provided the aluminum.

As a symbol of diplomacy and dialogue, the peace bench pays tribute to the Nobel Peace Prize laureates and their effort to bring people together in order to find effective solutions for peace. Placed right next to the famous statue of the knotted gun, Non-Violence, the new installation is titled The Best Weapon. Engraved on the installation is Nelson Mandela’s famous quote; “The best weapon is to sit down and talk.”

Ill Lars Tornøe

"To sit down and talk is by far the simplest, most important and most efficient way to create peace. We are happy to be able, together with our partners, to provide the space outside the UN Headquarter with such a tool for dialogue, that is much needed in today’s international climate, says Executive Director of the Nobel Peace Center, Liv Tørres.

Designed as a partial circle that meets the ground at its lowest point, the gentle arc of the bench pulls those sitting on it closer together. The installation’s simple design gesture embodies an invitation to conversation. 

“We believe in using design as a tool to create lasting symbols that foster fruitful communication”, says Snøhetta founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen.

The six and a half meter-long installation is made from anodized aluminum from Hydro. Bead-blasted and pre-distressed, the sturdy material will ensure the bench’s longevity, promoting diplomacy and dialogue for many years to come.

The unveiling event will take place at the UN headquarters in New York on the Nelson Mandela Day, July 18th, 2019. After September 2019, the bench will travel to Oslo to be installed to host Nobel Peace Prize laureates and the public alike. 

"We hope that the bench will encourage people to sit down and talk – not only to their friends, but more often also to strangers and adversaries. Peace requires listening and frank, candid and respectful conversations", says Liv Tørres.

The Nobel Peace Center thanks the Mandela Foundation for their kind collaboration.

About the Collaborative Partners: Snøhetta, Hydro and Vestre

The installation, entitled The Best Weapon, was designed by Snøhetta. Materials were supplied by Hydro, and final construction of the piece was completed by Vestre. The three companies bring to this project a rich history of past collaborations for social design in the public realm, including Snøhetta and Vestre’s collaboration to design the furniture for Snøhetta’s redesign of Times Square, and Snøhetta’s work on re-imagining Hydro’s visual identity. 

Vestre is a leading manufacturer of sustainable furniture for cities, parks and other outdoor spaces. For more than 70 years Vestre has helped create democratic meeting places around the world where people of different social, cultural and financial identities can come together. This includes Times Square in New York, Aker Brygge in Oslo and Kings Cross in London.

Hydro (Norsk Hydro ASA) is a fully integrated aluminum company with operations all over the world. Present in all parts of the value chain, from bauxite and alumina to rolled and extruded products and recycling, Hydro is the only 360-degree company of the global aluminum industry, serving more than 30,000 customers worldwide.

Snøhetta is an international integrated architecture, landscape architecture, interior architecture, product design and graphic design firm. For 30 years, Snøhetta has designed some of the world’s most notable public and cultural projects. In 2018, Snøhetta designed Arch for Arch, a commemorative arch in Cape Town, South Africa, dedicated to the legacy of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and human rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

About the Nobel Peace Center

  • one of Norway's most visited museums, with app 250.000 visitors per year.
  • presents the story of Alfred Nobel, the Nobel Peace Prize laureates and their work
  • is situated in the heart of Oslo, near the City Hall


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