Beyond the wall

Mariam Omara
The German University in Cairo

Idea projektu

A European embassy in Africa is more likely to be an imposed affair, using materials and human resources brought from outside. This Proposal for the Embassy of The Czech republic in Addis Ababa is different. It’s meant to be entirely realized by local materials and local workforce using the only widely available local construction material, Ethiopian Earth, more of a vernacular building approach, coupled with Ethiopian stone and timber for the interior and exterior finishes.With the use of the richly pigmented Ethiopian earth, the walls, floors and ceilings are all composed of the same material.Also, the earth could be mixed with various iron oxides to pigment the layers and thus create unique textures and patterns.

Although the buildings “looks” Ethiopian on the outside, The walls metaphorically narrate the story of the Czech Republic being captive in the Soviet Union For many years before it became an independent country, like wise, the exterior fencing or wall, diverges towards the inside to shape the architecture and guide the circulation into all the different spaces through out the embassy complex, with the wall serving a purpose beyond safety and functionality, but to create a unique architectural experience, as the walls alternate in pattern, height, thickness and spacing between one another.The wall eventually becomes more of an impression; the core identity of the built architecture.

Other contemporary Czechs themes are expressed in the embassy complex such as the sculpture garden, and the sculpture of the hanging man at the entrance of the main embassy building.

Inspired by one of the most prominent contemporary architecture examples in the Czech Republic, Villa Tugendhat, & specifically with the outstanding circular architectural elements and alternating walls, that automatically catch the eye when looking at the space, I attempt to integrate this gesture with the concept of the Ethiopian Tukul, to develop an architectural statement.

The Choice of material used for construction, “Rammed earth”; also compliments the building’s typology because of its exquisite qualities such as it being sound proof, and having a high thermal capacity

Popis projektu

The starting point for this proposal was to provide strong architecture, contemporary but inspired by the context in which it occurs yet represents a european country on a cultural and political level.

The challenge was to create a certain mood, a certain scale with modern tools and architectural vocabulary.Thus, the architecture is voluntarily massive, aesthetically powerful and plays with bringing the exterior into the interior, which plays a keyhole in the perception of all spaces //genius loci // The proposed organization helps readability and clarity of the various entities of the project.

This proposal allows for advancing the idea of building with earth so that its’ technically and logistically up to date, and empowering the majority of the world to turn this technique, into a contemporary way of construction

Technické informace

The embassy complex is designed as 5 detached buildings, each serving a specific function, seperated yet connected by “the wall”, that originally was only the exterior fence surrounding the complex.

The main entrance to the embassy complex is located on the south with a driveway and drop off for the main embassy building guests, with a parking on the south eastern corner, and a departure point to the east.

On this entrance visitors are guided along each extended wall to the inside of the buildings.

The entrance on the right leads to the entrance hall of the main embassy building where all the representative lounges are located along with the dining room.Theres also a staircase leading to the first floor towards office sections A and B.

The 2 Entrances on the left building, each are connected to the assembly hall, where one of which directly leads visitors to a sculpture garden at the back of the building. In case of larger events, the garden space could be shared with the garden on the right of the main embassy building that is normally operated to serve as an open space for the embassy staff.

Another separate pedestrian entrance is located to the east for visitors to the consular and visa department, with a separate outdoor waiting area.

Theres also a separate entrance in the north eastern corner of the complex for private visitors of the Ambassador, and second entrance to this region from the proposed street on the west of the site, as a private entrance for the ambassador and his family members.

The embassy staff residence is situated on the western part of the site with also a separate pedestrian entrance and a separate pool, childrens playground and garden.

The Social housing building is located on the western part of the plot, fenced off the rest of the embassy complex, where to the north of this building exists a parking for the embassy staff.

The landscaping is designed to complement the architecture in a way that it contributes to the “genius loci” of the space.The water features reflect the unique patterns and texture of the walls and create a sense of guidance for the circulation.

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