The Best Weapon, UN HQ Concrete Installation, United Nations Architecture Images, Bench

The Best Weapon at the UN HQ in New York

Public Architecture Installation, United States of America design by Snøhetta Architects

Sep 30, 2019

The Best Weapon

Architects: Snøhetta

Location: 1st Avenue, New York, USA

The Best Weapon UN HQ NY
photo © Bjørnar Øvrebø

Snøhetta has designed an installation which is currently showcased the UN Headquarters Plaza in New York City as a symbol of diplomacy and dialogue. Commissioned by the Nobel Peace Center, the piece is titled The Best Weapon after Nelson Mandela’s historic quote “The best weapon is to sit down and talk”.

The Best Weapon UN HQ NY

The installation pays tribute to past Nobel Peace Prize laureates and their efforts to bring people together to find effective solutions for peace.

The Best Weapon UN HQ NY
photos © Johannes W. Berg

The Best Weapon manifests the values of the Nobel Peace Center and pays homage to Nelson Mandela’s humane ideals of compromise, dialogue and compassion. 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, subsequently and subtly encouraging dialogue. The Best Weapon delivers a message of peace and conflict resolution, both as a functional piece that encourages conversation and social intimacy, and as a resilient symbol that anchors the Peace Center’s mission for discourse and peace.

The Best Weapon UN HQ NY
photo © Bjørnar Øvrebø

«The foremost precondition for peace is bringing people together. We believe in using design as a tool to create lasting symbols that foster fruitful communication,” says Snøhetta founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen.

The Best Weapon UN HQ NY
photo © Bjørnar Øvrebø

The installation is situated at the main entry to the UN Headquarters Plaza, next to the famous Non-Violence sculpture – a oversized Colt revolver cast in bronze, with a knotted barrel and the muzzle pointing upwards. The sculpture, popularly known as “the knotted gun” was created in 1993 by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd as a response to the murder of singer-songwriter and peace activist John Lennon. Since then, the knotted gun has become a global symbol of non-violence. Sited in such a prominent location both symbolically and physically, The Best Weapon takes on multiple valences through this dialogue with its neighbor.

The six-and-a-half meter-long installation is made from anodized aluminum from Hydro. The aluminum is the world’s greenest with significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions than the industry average. In addition to creating a beautiful surface, the anodized finish of the bench has high corrosion resistance and protection against scratching. The installation is produced by Vestre in a completely carbon-neutral process. Bead-blasted and pre-distressed, the sturdy material will ensure the bench’s longevity, promoting diplomacy and dialogue for many years to come.

The Best Weapon UN HQ NY
photo © Bjørnar Øvrebø

About “The Best Weapon”
The installation was commissioned by the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway. Designed by Snøhetta and created in partnership with collaborators Hydro and Vestre, the “peace bench”, entitled The Best Weapon, was first unveiled at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City on Nelson Mandela Day, July 18th. The installation will remain at the Headquarters’ plaza through October 15th, when it will be transferred to Oslo to its permanent location near the Nobel Peace Center and the Oslo City Hall, where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded annually.

The Best Weapon UN HQ NY
photo © Bjørnar Øvrebø

About the Nobel Peace Center
The Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway is the museum for the Nobel Peace Prize. As one of Norway’s most visited museums, it presents the Nobel Peace Prize laureates and their work and communicates the story of Alfred Nobel. The Center is also an arena for topical debates and conversations related to war, peace and conflict resolution.

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, and the world’s first producer of carbon-neutral outdoor furniture. 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.

The Best Weapon UN HQ NY
photo © UN Photo/Kim Haughton

The Best Weapon at the UN HQ in New York images/information received 300919


Photography: © Johannes W. Berg, © Bjørnar Øvrebø and © UN Photo/Kim Haughton

Location: 1st Avenue, New York, USA

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