snøhetta designs 'peace bench' as a symbol of diplomacy and dialogue at UN headquarters

snøhetta designs 'peace bench' as a symbol of diplomacy and dialogue at UN headquarters

to be unveiled in prime position outside the UN headquarters in new york during this years nelson mandela day (july 18th, 2019), snøhetta has created the ‘peace bench.’ officially entitled ‘the best weapon’, the installation has been designed in collaboration with hydro and vestre as a symbolic expression of diplomacy and dialogue. in homage to nobel peace prize laureates, the art-piece intends to convey in a tangible way, the positive effects that peaceful discourse can have.

snøhetta designs the 'peace bench' as a symbol of diplomacy and dialogue at UN headquarters designboom

all images © lars tornøe



made from anodized aluminum, the six and a half meter-long installation has been conceived by snøhetta, and realized with the help of hydro and vestre, in a simple arc shape. anchored in the middle with the ends gently rising up like the corners of a smile, the form brings those sitting on the bench closer together as a direct analogy of bringing people of the world together to find effective solutions for peace. additionally, and in tribute to the revolutionary leader nelson mandela, the surface is also engraved with one of his most famous quotes – ‘the best weapon is to sit down and talk’. 

snøhetta designs the 'peace bench' as a symbol of diplomacy and dialogue at UN headquarters designboom



‘in today’s digitalized and polarized society, sitting down and speaking together might be the most effective tool that we have to find solutions and common ground. we believe in using design as a tool to create lasting symbols that foster fruitful communication,’ says snøhetta founder, kjetil trædal thorsen.

snøhetta designs the 'peace bench' as a symbol of diplomacy and dialogue at UN headquarters designboom



commissioned by the nobel peace center in oslo, norway, the piece balances both function and symbolism while embodying ideals of compromise, dialogue and compassion: ‘we hope that the bench will encourage people to sit down and talk – to their friends, but also to strangers and adversaries. genuine conversations are requirements for peace,’ says executive director of the nobel peace center, liv tørres.


designed for longevity, the installation will first be presented outside the UN in new york city before being moved to oslo. what will become its permanent location, the ‘peace bench’ will take pride position near the nobel peace center and the oslo city hall, where the nobel peace prize is awarded annually.



project info:


project name: ‘the best weapon’

design: snøhetta

collaborators: hydro, vestre

commissioned by: the nobel peace center, oslo, norway

images: lars tornøe

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