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Alternative City Housing

Ahadu Abayneh
Session 31 Summary by Eyob Biruk Regassa
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Greetings, friends and colleagues, the 31st architects ወርሃዊ session was another insightful virtual session that assessed alternatives focused on housing. The virtual session was the 7th of its kind. It is duly efficient because it is inclusive and live-streamed to everyone residing here and abroad. The discussion was titled ‘Alternative city Housing – the treehouse project’ and was presented with Architect Ahadu Abayneh. We would like to thank Ahadu Abayneh: The architect and designer of the Tree-House project and other nature-related projects for the subtle and timely discussion on the topic.

Semawit Ayele commenced the discussion by introducing Ahadu Abayneh. He mentioned that he had his first degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from Addis Ababa University EiABC. He, later on, added that he used to participate in wood workshops and other practical activities. Currently, he is engaged in supervision-based construction works. Ahadu proceeded by thanking his fellow architects, the audience, and his friends for inviting him to be a guest in the selected topic of presentation.

He further pursued the discussion by noting out that the idea of a treehouse was first conceived early in his college years when he was taking a housing course at his 5th-year class. Cost of material, the country’s economy, and labor inefficiency he was forced to produce a proposal for his school project to create affordable housing at the time. Later after graduation, when his close friend was in demand of a low-cost house, that was when the first Tree-house was built.

Regarding the availability and the journey, Ahadu stressed the idea that the project developed through time and practice. His first thought was to only produce the walls naturally. But later through experience and elaborative experiment, he noticed that the whole house could be produced. Further structural and system-based studies proved the project could become a reality. The journey had some ups and downs but more or less, it was a successful one mentioned by Ahadu.

An interesting presentation was followed with descriptive pictures of the first treehouse project with the settlers inside it. Basic structural issues were resolved technically with the collaborative efforts of the owner in ideas and finishing works. The project was made of natural wood for structural logs as beams and columns, the walls were made of mud and grass and later painted with bright colors to harmonize the feel of the interior. One major achievement mentioned was that the floor was suspended but still touching the ground level.

Another insightful idea that was procured in the following tree-house project in 2014 was the structural design. It was an inverted truss holding the floors which was much better. Wooden conches were included in the design. ‘Bahir Zaf’ mentioned by Ahadu has been experimented with to have strong fibers since they were first generations of the tree.
Their material was used as structural columns in the project. In the later years after several experiments, Entoto park in 2020 was another successful and improved design implementation. A suspended platform of steel structures coerced with wooden decking at a restaurant creates an exquisite view of the city. Toilets and stairs are included in the space which made it more attractive.

Future plans of the project were pointed out that further study and application in the tree-house will lead to cost-efficient and natural housings. Cost minimization techniques include structural and labor costs. Building of small dialogical communities, building a small village for young families in Entoto, and developing of communities generating knowledge at the center of social life (which was imitated by the tree) were some of the mentioned concepts and futuristic plans of the project to combat the current urban settlement.

In conclusion, Ahadu response to the question of the sustainability and control of nature’s wide unpredictability was, that the functionality of spaces is assured by the flexibility of detailed engineering systems. Detailed planning and active supervision by prominent professionals will aid to oversee sustainable and affordable housing for a sustainable community.

Finally, the cost implication of earlier projects with an estimate of a 30,000-birr cost at 2001G.C in 80m2 plot was pointed out to be held as a pushing initiative. In the current currency value, it comes to be 140,000 birr which was the cost of building the project. A promising experiment is still underway to ensure a sustainable community with a cost-efficient housing design technique.

The session was concluded by encouraging all architects to further push on designing context-specific yet sustainable projects to oversee a future that answers the current economic issues as well as the socio-technical aspects of housing. We would like to acknowledge moderators Semawit Ayele for facilitating such a successful virtual session.

The next architects ወርሃዊ will be held on July 1st, 2021. See you all next month and keep yourself and your families safe from Covid-19 by applying the necessary precautions!

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© July, 2024 Ketema Journal

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