The Peace Tower
 2003 | Saint Petersburg

 by the artist Clara HALTER and architect
 Jean-Michel WILMOTTE



The Peace Tower by Clara HALTER :

From cuneiform characters to today's alphabets, is there a more universal means of expression than writing – those enigmatic signs, engraved or drawn on clay or paper, lined up and charged with meaning?

It is this ancient art form – so communicative and yet so intimate – that I have chosen to express myself.

That is how I came to design, with the complicity of my friend and architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the Wall for Peace monument in Paris. Glass walls covered with a single word in 32 languages and 18 alphabets: PEACE. “Peace” repeated ad infinitum as if to ward off all forms of violence, all wars.

But at a time when the planet is ablaze, building peace monuments may seem derisory, even chimerical.

And yet, no matter how convinced we are peace will not prevail in our lifetime, we couldn't live without fighting the battle.

Despite the uncertainty, each new generation must continue the struggle.

And it's precisely because we feel that we'll never see the end of it that we must start again and again, continue indefinitely.

Because it is vital. Because art will be elevated.


The Peace Tower by Jean-Michel WILMOTTE :

The project to build a Peace Tower on Sennaya Square for Saint Petersburg's Tercentenary celebration is in keeping with the work Clara Halter and I carried out in 2000 when we created the Wall for Peace on the Champ de Mars in Paris.

As was the case three years earlier, I wanted to create an original setting for Clara's writing, where she experiments with letters ranging from the infinitely small to the infinitely big, defying our reading comfort. But this time, the specific volume of Sennaya Square called for a different structure. A wall with dominant horizontal lines designed for the large open space of the Champs de Mars was not appropriate. Rather, a vertical vector was needed, a tall slender shape to blend in with the buildings around the square. This led to the idea of erecting an 18-metre-high tower that would not be higher than the surrounding edifices.

Likewise, the design on the tower pedestal, in the shape of a teardrop, was determined by the route followed by the traffic on the square.
Thus, the tower was conceived to harmonise with the existing high-quality urban and architectural web. This was also my main concern when I recently examined a new lighting project for the canals of Saint Petersburg.

The tower project also differed from that of Paris in that the construction could be enhanced and renewed. Indeed, the pedestal at the foot of the tower has been designed to bear the signatures of politicians, economists, intellectuals and artists who will visit the Peace Tower and adhere to what it symbolises. The tower will therefore become increasingly significant as influential visitors come and declare their commitment to the peace cause.