Addis Hall of Architecture and Urbanism is a new space designed to bridge the information gap and serve as a public discussion space inaugurated by His Excellency Engineer Takele Uma on the 23rd of June, 2020. Initiated by the mayor’s office in collaboration with architecture and urban planning professionals, this comes as a move to break the mold of previous patterns and really include the public by providing a space where they can review, question, challenge, and/or contribute to some of the ongoing mega projects of the city.
The capital has been the beacon of transformation and a model city to other major cities throughout the country. Now, however, the side effects of some projects from over five years ago have begun to show. For so long the driving factor for public projects has been the numbers as they become problems that couldn’t be ignored anymore. Huge housing developments are the prime examples responsible for such heavy traffic jams and transportation issues unlike which the city has ever seen. The light railway track is another example that has divided neighborhoods and affected businesses. Cutting multistory buildings for sidewalk expansions is a prevalent practice that affects households, businesses, and collectively tax revenues leaving them unfinished, bare and dusty due to lack of funds afterward.
All these problems could have been foreseen partially or fully and measures would’ve been taken if these ambitious undertakings were challenged in time. Moreover, the government would also have benefited by saving future expenses because projects will have been thought through and future problems accounted for.
The financial aspect of public projects is also another concern and one of the major issues that can be solved through creative thinking. Revenues from public projects can benefit both the public and government with well-maintained spaces, employment opportunities. Even if the spaces can’t provide noteworthy revenues, they can opt for alternative outcomes such as inspiring citizenship, promoting creativity, skill-developing, or any equivalent personal and social gains.
The former square garden café & restaurant has been rehabilitated into a pristine hall where ideas are presented, discussions are made and premium coffee is sipped. The space of Addis Hall itself is a testament to what can be achieved if we think of ideas like rehabilitation, recycling, and adapting existing structures.
Currently, several projects that are under construction are on display and can be visited during working hours. The place is equipped with plenty of parking spaces, a coffee shop, a public garden, and discussion tables with fast open Wi-Fi. An example of compact urban farming techniques can also be found in the backyard to inspire and encourage the practice of harvesting healthy vegetables in a heavily populated city for household consumptions.
The space has started hosting a new series of discussion dubbed ‘Addis Hall Table’ aimed at inviting specific professionals and stakeholders to a customized discussion table that will be named weekly based on the group of participating professionals.
So far, three consecutive tables have been hosted; the first of these discussions, Architects’ Table, was held on the 28th of July 2020 in collaboration with the Association of Ethiopian Architects (AEA) on the topic ‘What and Where the city center of Addis Ababa is, how it is conceived, and transformed’ followed by the Engineers’ & Planners’ Table with topics of ‘What Integrated Infrastructure is’ and ‘Transportations & the City’ respectively.
Addis Hall aims at being the center for public engagement to improve the city by providing a gathering space for officials, architects, planners, engineers, contractors, lawyers, and professionals from multiple disciplines involved in the development of our city. In a time where there are so many public projects, discussion and public engagement are much-needed subjects to be embodied in such a space.
Ultimately these kinds of spaces will catalyze the setting of new standards for the built environment, architecture, and urban planning. Breathing new energy to reach new heights in the construction of projects all over the country. In the end, it will be worth the effort for a better quality of city life.