Mandela on the mountain

Celebrating Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday with a monumental design

On July 18 1918 Nelson Mandela was born in South-Africa. He was a member of the Ixhiba clan.

He grew up in the East-Cape province and was the first one in the family history to go to school, having the nickname of trouble maker: Rolihlahla. In his early twenties he started to revolt against the apartheid regime.   The man who gave his life to fight Apartheid, a Dutch invention, which brought him for 27 years in jail of which he was released on February 11 1990.

The whole world was excited when Nelson finally was released by the white president Frederik Willem de Klerk. Then Mandela’s star raised very quick and he became president of South-Africa from 1994 till 1999. In which, he gave way of a very good way of international thinking, by par example by condemning the attack of Iraq. We almost all know, what Mandiba means for the world and that gave him the Nobel prize for peace, together with de Klerk.


His way of thinking should be educated forever! Our foundation would like to construct a memorial for his legacy in Cape town. The monument will stand for past, present and future. It will shape a wide view over Cape town and the history of Apartheid, so this will be banned for ever and anywhere. A monument will teach all next generations about Mandela who gave his life for justice and show his heritage.


Recognizing the facts of the past will open windows for today and the future.


Nelson Mandela: “Everything is impossible till it’s done!”

The foundation has this project in mind. The realization of an image of Nelson Mandela in the mountains near the Table mountain, this conferring the example of mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse memorial in the U.S.. On a beautiful and available place or space with a view over Cape town and Robben Island. Nelson Mandela was captured from 1964 till 1982 on Robben island and later in several other places to be released in 1990. The project should be realized at or near the location of district six, Cape town, to combine the image with an educative, recreational and multifunctional Centre. The history of district six is also not to be forgotten. The nostalgic area was in 1966 totally demolished with bulldozers and the 60.000 colored inhabitants had to leave without replacement. There has never been done anything since with this district! Due to old rites from the African people the district should be disclosed.

The fact is that there are about four million tourists visiting Cape town every year. This gives the support that the sculpture of Nelson Mandela as a multi-cultural Centre will be visited a lot and work in cooperation with other Cape town museum. District six is also already on the route of the always driving around double-decker busses with tourists, hop on hop off, and will give an easy economical impulse to the place.

The whole plan is a boost for the employment and tourist industry. A place to build, that tells the history of a man who gave his life for a battle against apartheid. Something we never should or would forget. A piece of cultural recovery from the Apartheid. Apartheid, a system that lost her color. It has become a colorless contrast between rich and poor. The place will be low cost for the local inhabitants and a part of the turnover will be reserved for local life and wildlife.


Aart Bak

Foundation Mandela on the bike

3D impression Mandela on the mountain by WHIM architecture
July 18 2013 Support this project on:
3D impression Mandela on the mountain by WHIM architecture

The design is a sculptural building that resembles the head of Nelson Mandela. The size of the building suits the visibility and accessibility on the mountain overlooking Cape Town and its coastline. So far we have considered the dimension of ca. 30 metres wide and ca. 60 metres high. In this dimension the building can facilitate different kinds of programs as part of the Nelson Mandela Centre. This can be a Nelson Mandela exhibition, congress centre, restaurant, theatre, education centre, panorama terrace etc..


The design matches the recognizable feature of Nelson Mandela’s head together with wonderful panoramic views from inside the building. We’ve conducted several studies on what the percentage of openness can be while still recognizing the face. All around the open parts terraces are situated to create attractive open areas and to prevent the interior from direct sunlight. The orientation to the North, facing Robben Island, is considered to create shade and to use the benefits of sunshine.  


Sustainability is an important part of the design and we want the building to be self-sustaining. The two different appearances of the façade illustrate the use of natural resources. From below the building will look green by its vegetation façade. While from the sky solar panels catch the sun rays to provide not only the building with sufficient energy,but it should also be able to power nearby neighbourhoods.


Nelson Mandela is present in the interior of the building as a standing statue on mostly all the building’s floors. Mandela will be literally the core of the building. To construct the building on the mountain facade, we will look for the best spot in visibility, panorama and anchoring. The idea is to find a platform on which the construction core can stand, to keep the construction principle simple.


The required budget is to develop this sketch proposal into a complete architectural design. What we will do:

1. Adjust the design to recommendations of the city of Cape Town and National government.

2. Find the exact location to position the building.

3. Determine the full program that will house the building.

4. Together with structural engineers we will develop the most efficient structure to position the building on or to the mountain.

5. Together with installation advisors we will maximize the use of natural resources for self sustainability.

6. Find the best access to the building.

7. Combine all aspects into a complete admirable design.

8. Find the additional financing for the construction.



Ramon Knoester

WHIM architecture  


3D impression Mandela on the mountain by WHIM architecture
3D impression aerial view Mandela on the mountain by WHIM architecture
3D impression aerial view Mandela on the mountain by WHIM architecture
3D impression panoramic view from interior by WHIM architecture
Principle section
Principle floorplans

Mandela on the bike Foundation

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Q&A Contact
For the design and location we want to consider all possible options. As a temporarily location for the first 
sketches we were thinking of Devil’s peak just above district six.