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ZigZag Space

Alebel Desta CAE
Article: Nura Mohammed Tinsae Tsegahun
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ZIGZAG Space: A center for Arts and Design

ZIGZAG space is a multidisciplinary space founded in April 2022 by Alebel Desta Consulting Architects and Engineers. The gallery opened recently and is an emerging center for the arts and crafts world. It promotes creativity, encourages experimentation, and provides a platform to initiate and engage the community.

Named ZIGZAG space after the unique roof of the building it is situated in, this place has become an up-and-coming attraction. Many creative streams have come together in one location to create a unique experience. ZIGZAG Space is located at Bisrate Gabriel, in the International Tennis Club building on the Third floor.

Zig Zag space reflects over 20 years of hard work and many people’s dedication to making a dream come true.


The conception

Although it was opened recently, ZIGZAG space reflects over 20 years of hard work and many people’s dedication to making a dream come true. And that dream belongs to Alebel Desta, Head architect of the firm Alebel Desta Consulting Architects and Engineers.

ADCAE was motivated to establish Zigzag space through the long-standing culture of the firm in experimenting and its will to promote this culture to the architecture community and the wider public. ADCAE believes that the experimental process is as valuable as the final output. With this ideology, Zigzag space isn’t only a place to exhibit finished products but a curation that highlights the process of making these products where people can collaboratively work and learn.

Alebel Desta is well-known in the architectural community and beyond for his unique touch, the tendency to experiment, and the careful crafting of his works. However, it is not well known that his journey within the arts and crafts world precedes many of his architectural ventures. His mother heavily inspired him as a child, a craftswoman who would make various items to serve her household and beyond. He took what he learned from her in conjunction with his learning in architecture school, which he attended in Addis Ababa, and kept experimenting with creating innovative things.

The architectural studio, Alebel Desta consulting architects and engineers, is attached to the gallery. The studio team makes the content of ZIGZAG space. The arts and crafts feed the architecture and vice versa to build a creative environment where it is easy to generate ideas and find inspiration.


The space

ZIGZAG space covers a spacious area with 600 square meters of space flooded with natural light. Its generous room height has become a notable character of the gallery, even influencing its name. The nature of the space makes it easy to experiment with different scales and proportions.

The roof of the building has manifested in the exterior of the gallery. Its pitched roof has created exciting geometries that give the gallery a unique spatial definition. The large windows, along with the generous room height, provide a light and spacious environment. The airy feel is complemented by the many potted plants, which lend an outdoor garden-like feel to the gallery. Altogether, these elements make the gallery feel like an escape from the busy city.

Our collection

As a living portfolio, the gallery showcases the studio’s wide range of products and services. The space also aims to host events and gatherings related to the arts and creative worlds.

The space showcases a collection of paintings that heavily feature vibrant colors, geometric lines, and shapes composed in various manners. The pieces are inspired by Ethiopian and African art. The paintings cross the traditional arts inspired by the contemporary painting style. Ethiopian tilet, sifet, tattoos, and crosses have inspired many pieces. They range from tiny palm-sized pieces to ones twice as tall as the average person. All art pieces have been carefully crafted and made by hand in the space.

Much of the furniture utilized to fill the space has also been designed and crafted in-house. The pieces follow the entire space’s crafty approach and encourage users to think out of the box. The furniture utilizes the materials’ nature to elevate the pieces’ aesthetic. These pieces are crafted to spark creativity, showcasing and inspiring creative thinking.

The centerpiece of the arts and crafts center is the bamboo dome. The structure, designed and built in-house, creates a space within the space that contrasts with the areas displaying artwork. The dome is a temporary installation that commands a section to create a different feel, focusing on the people rather than the arts. There are plans to include other installations to continue with the space within a space feel.

Along with the many carefully crafted and designed elements of the space, many found items make the gallery home. Every day and often overlooked items are put into a different context to highlight their beauty and shed light on their unique characters. These items are often transformed beyond their intended function, creating a new artistic expression in and of itself.


Our Ideology

ZIGZAG space is intended to be a flexible platform to support the collaboration of architects, artists, and the community. The space aims to serve the general population as an experience focused on art and architecture, where people can get in touch with traditional craftsmanship and contemporary techniques. The gallery serves as an exhibition of creative outputs, a space for design thinking experiments, and a venue where Designers and Artists can meet and discuss diverse issues. Moreover, ZIGZAG space seeks to link art and architectural communities by providing a platform for collaborative learning and creating a shared understanding for a better future.

The space has a complex array of arts and crafts, and its unique composition of architectural elements is a must-see for anyone in Addis Ababa. Photos can do no justice to the intricate beauty of the items featured and the symphony they create when they are composed. Going through ZIGZAG space is an experience in and of itself. It can be viewed multiple times and still discover something new each time. ZIGZAG space is inviting you all to visit.

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© July, 2024 Ketema Journal

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