“The Best Weapon” at the UN Headquarters: A Symbol of Diplomacy and Dialogue

Snøhetta has designed an installation which is currently showcased the UN Headquarters Plaza in New York City as a symbol of diplomacy and dialogue
“The Best Weapon” at the UN Headquarters: A Symbol of Diplomacy and Dialogue
Photograph © Bjørnar Øvrebø
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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” at the UN Headquarters: A Symbol of Diplomacy and Dialogue
Photograph © 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 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 Best Weapon” at the UN Headquarters: A Symbol of Diplomacy and Dialogue
Photograph © Bjørnar Øvrebø

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.

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.

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