Architecture

Czech Republic Embassy in Addis Abeba

Emmanuel Santamaria Victor, Emilio Martínez Frausto
Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana
Mexico

Project idea

The new embassy for the Czech Republic in Addis Abeba was conceived as a bridge that establishes communication between two different nations. In order to accomplish this, the project speaks in a new language that blends elements taken from the heritage of both cultures with the purpose of celebrating diversity, collaboration, and openness.

Project description

Our project draws inspiration both from the European and the African tradition. This synthesis strives to create a project that speaks of both cultures, embracing the cultural interchange inherent to overseas diplomatic missions.
We began with a layout commonly found in sub-saharan African villages, in which each family has a plot of land where they distribute the bedrooms, kitchen, shrine, storage spaces, etc, instead of building a single unit like is used to in western cultures. This gave us the spatial disposition.
Then we borrowed the idea of the European fortified city, in which the most important building - most commonly a castle- is located at the center. The buildings following in importance where built around, and so on, following a hierarchy. This gave us the organization of each space of the embassy according to their importance.
Finally, we decided to respect the genius-loci of the plot by keeping the trees currently existing on the plot, on the basis that if they have managed to survive without the need of a gardener, they require little maintenance and express the qualities of the terrain.

Technical information

In keeping with the local customs and , we chose to apply a process known as rammed earth that is common to Africa that allows for easy climate control. It is cheap, easy to build, and its rich texture and color are beautiful enough as to render the use of any kind of refurbishment unnecessary.
We also implemented lightweight tensile structures that serve both as a providers of shade and as part of a rainwater harvesting system.

Co-authors

Emmanual Santamaria Victor;
Emilio Martínez Frausto