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architects ወርሃዊ

Zoma Museum March 2020, Session 18
Abel Assefa
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Greetings friends and colleagues, March’s architects ወርሃዊ was refreshing and showed an individual’s effort to bring to the present our age old construction techniques. We would like to thank Meskerem Assegued for the inspiring presentation. We hope to have such stimulating discussions in the future.

Meskerem shared her experience and ideas of using traditional materials and techniques (mud buildings in particular), her thought process, the challenges faced in this approach and some ongoing and completed projects.

It was interesting to see how her researches and fascination with Ethiopian architecture led to the establishment of Zoma museum, did you know that one of the intents of that center is to bridge the gap between artists and architects?

She also discussed her intuitive and hands-on approach on the site, and how by studying and understanding the site features and forces, she was able to come up with the design concepts.

During the discussions she stressed the importance of allowing ourselves to dream as it plays a crucial role to solve problems and create new possibilities.
Implemented projects include the Zoma museum, Elias sime’s studio, Unity Park and the Harla museum in Dire Dawa were presented.

Discussions started by recognizing how such experiments help free the material from old perceptions by showing the possibility of what can be done despite the excessive challenges.

Points raised included, the need to standardize traditional materials to meet current performance requirements, the need to start researching the already built buildings and supporting them scientifically and the possibility of having a strong documentation to support it.

A valid point on the importance of doing a cost analysis to see where the material falls on the affordability scale was mentioned. Furthermore the need to push beyond attempting external experiments and allowing the material to influence the design of the internal space was pointed out.

Challenges faced in this line of thought were also discussed, beginning from the tendency to see traditional materials as rural to the challenges of obtaining building permit and the lack of professionals and particularly structural engineers in this area.

It was also indicated that by working together, Architects have to challenge the position of concerned authorities and the possibility of AEA promoting and supporting the use and experimentation with natural materials.

What do you think people? Could this be a visionary model for the city of the future?

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© November, 2020 Ketema Journal

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