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Ethiopian Architects are hoping to change Ethiopia’s stale architectural landscape.
The Association of Ethiopian Architects (AEA) unveiled its strategic plan for the years 2012-14. On August 4 they presented their ongoing activity and financial report.
The association has been present for the last 20 years, although it’s only now that it’s has become more prominent with the construction boom all across Ethiopia. Addis Mebrahtu President of AEA said the Association has not reached its potential because it didn’t have a strategic plan but after receiving input from members they do now.
He said the profession is thriving but they have faced challenges including insufficient education, curriculum, teaching space and studios for students.
The Ethiopian Architectural and Building Construction School (EiABC), located in the Lideta area of Addis, is one of the oldest in Africa. Other schools are relatively new and their standards are often less than a decade old. One of the pillars of the strategy is continuing education instead of the current five year fixed training as well as finding innovative approaches to architectural education.
Another issue is the absence of standards for architecture fees. Frequently tenders are not based on quality but instead only on the bottom line.
Addis added that based on an agreement with the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development (MoCUD), the recent unveiling of the National Stadium project starting from Terms of Reference (ToR) was as a result of the design quality being subsequently upgraded.
AEA formed a special committee of experienced architects for the design of the National Theatre which subsequently found the previous design to be below standards leading to a new design competition.
The Association plans to help professionalize the field by making a standardized licensing process which will mean that people will not be able to call themselves architects just because they have a degree in the subject.
Reports indicate architectural graduates have various levels and standards of competency, not just in terms knowledge but also technical skill which the Association said believed could be improved through exams.
“There is a difference between what we want and what we can afford,” said Addis. In addition to offices given by the Ethiopian Government, they plan to turn heritage buildings to good use after renovating them.
AEA’s footprints have been found in Cafee Oromia building in Adama city, as well as the cultural center found in Addis, and various buildings inside the premises of Hawassa University.
Addis reiterated that since the construction sector involves billions of birr ever year the Government should help the association patch up its weak spots with money and manpower because architecture affects generations.
On a personal note he said Architectural design should reflect the culture and environment of the nation.
He surmised that he’s optimistic about the country’s architectural design because innovation is occurring as a result of the construction boom.
AEA members had also said they noted a positive shift in attitude of building contractors with regard to aesthetic value and a recently passed building code law.