Top 10 Architecture Buildings in Ethiopia
In the past two decades, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city has undergone a rapid architectural transformation, with the massive demolition of old buildings and the construction of high-rise buildings. African architects have taken the opportunity to showcase their creative designs to take part in Addis Ababa’s modernization.
Ethiopia’s architectural journey has been somewhat unique to that of other African nations. While colonialists occupied most African countries for a long time, Italians were in Ethiopia for five years (1936-1941). This period was insufficient to leave substantial structural plans and buildings, and is one reason scholars classify Ethiopia as «never colonized».
When Emperor Haile Selassie returned from exile, he wanted to reinvent Ethiopia’s architecture. It took him more than 15 years after his triumphant return to initiate building projects in Addis Ababa. During this period, indigenous buildings were constructed. They were unique but later deemed unsuitable for the nation’s capital.
Central Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) Building
The CBE building is Ethiopia’s largest bank, and currently the tallest building at the height of 198metres. The project was first proposed in 2010, construction began in 2015, and is expected to be complete sometime in 2021. The entire building has 46 floors above ground, with a floor area of 150,000sq.m.
This office block also has four basement levels of parking, eight conference halls, two restaurants, and a sightseeing tower. The architect of this project, HENN, is an international architectural consultancy company based in Berlin. This was the company’s first venture in African architecture.
African Union Headquarters & Conference Complex
The African Union Headquarters is one of the most phenomenal buildings in Ethiopia. It is an important symbol signifying African countries’ union. Not only does this building host AU summits, but the conference centre is also critical for African and diaspora businesses.
The building has 21 floors, which cover a height of 386 feet. The site itself was designed to resemble two hands in an embrace, symbolic of Africa-China relations. Traditional African art and designs adorn the building as a reminder that this is indeed African architecture.
Tongji Architectural Design Group designed the Africa Union Headquarters and China State Construction Engineering Company was the contractor.
Standing at 338ft, with 22 floors, Nani Tower mainly houses offices, restaurants and conference halls. This was the first building in Addis Ababa to comply with stringent earthquake measures. It has a floor area of 24,000 sq. m, including a two-level parking area that can accommodate 150 cars. Hailegebriel Gebre Sellasie, one of the renowned African architects, designed the building.
United Bank Headquarters
United Bank is Ethiopia’s most profitable bank, and a glimpse at the bank’s headquarters in Addis Ababa reflects the importance of this bank to Ethiopia’s economy. This building stands tall with 35 floors in the Senga Tera area, the city’s new financial district.
The four-level underground parking is designed to meet the demand for parking space. Eskinder Woubetu & Partners created this masterpiece that has elevated Ethiopia in Africa’s fight for the skies.
Addis Ababa City Hall
Addis Ababa City Halls is one of the buildings constructed in the 1960s that give meaning to Emperor Haile Selassie’s words, «It is possible to build grand buildings in Ethiopia too. It is not about the building’s complexity or size, but the use of home-produced materials». This building dominates the entire city centre, has two massive wings and a clock tower at its centre.
Critics have often referred to this building as «the work of the regime», but Mezzedimi Arturo, the architect, sees it as the perfect African architecture to signify the moment a great village was transformed into a city.
This Hall was completed in 1964, and Queen Elizabeth II visited it in 1965. Today, this building is not only an administrative centre but a place for socializing as well. It has a cinema, restaurant, 4 bars, and a panoramic terrace.
Maritime Transit Shipping Enterprise (MTSE) Headquarters
The MTSE Headquarters is a striking building that has become a reference point for various African architects. It is a mixed building with a commercial centre on the ground floor and institutional offices on the upper floors.
The building has 15 floors above ground, while the entire building is approximately 56.16 meters tall. The architects, National Consults, created a design that tapers towards the top, with the first three floors covering the building’s widest area. The circular apex is a great addition that offers a 360-degree aerial view of the city.
Holy Trinity Cathedral Addis Ababa
This building is not just a work of art, but it also has sentimental value to Ethiopians. This massive cathedral is the second most important place of worship. Emperor Haile Selassie and his wife’s tombs made using the Aksumite style are a sight to behold.
The cathedral’s exterior comprises a huge copper dome, numerous statues, and an interesting mix of international designs with a glimpse of Ethiopia’s traditional African architecture.
While Sheraton Addis does not feature amongst the sky scrapers gracing Ethiopia’s skies, its architecture is quite impressive. At six floors high, the architect Kosek Ivo chose to design a building covering an expansive area instead of focusing on its height. This impressive building has more than 290 rooms. Its location between the National Palace and the Menelik Palace draws more attention to the structure that has hosted several high-profile events, such as the Africa Union summits.
Ethiopian Skylight Hotel
The design of the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel is outstanding. The grand white building is divided into two massive blocks interconnected with a V-shaped central building that is not as tall but is just as stunning.
The glass layered centre-piece draws one’s attention to the rooms, which give an illusion of separate building brought together. The balconies of each vertical set of rooms move outward as a work of art.
This design is also functional because it allows for privacy should the guests opt to relax at the balcony. This hotel is expected to be the largest in Africa, with 1000 rooms when the second phase of the building is complete. Currently, the hotel has 375 rooms. AVIC is the architect behind this project.
Metropolitan Bole Tower
As Ethiopia seeks to transform Addis, the luxury home market has not been left behind, as evidenced by the Metropolitan Bole Tower. This apartment building has 11 floors serviced by high-end lifts. The 121 residential units are on the upper floors, while the ground floor serves as a commercial centre with five rental spaces. The common spaces, mainly the lobby and entrance, are well ventilated and have green spaces.