Professor in Residence, Department of Architecture, GSD, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city, is currently experiencing an unprecedented population boom and subsequent rapid urbanization which has fostered internal imbalances within the city’s urban landscape. To this should be added the negative effects derived from the continued impacts of a changing global climate. Together, these combined consequences have compromised the sustainable development of Addis Ababa. This essay addresses the initial outcomes of the “Addis Ababa River City” research project, an academic program created to address these aforementioned challenges through a holistic urban resilience strategy and design methodology. To do this, the research project proposes the use of a sustainable infrastructure as the primary design intervention, where the existing ecological elements serve as the foundational backbone but also include other urban dimensions. This paper will elaborate on the design methodology and resulting sustainable infrastructure intervention in two different and nested scales, the upper region of the Kebena river and Peacock Park. Together, this body of work demonstrates how to elucidate a holistic understanding of the complex urban realities that Addis Ababa, and many other growing worldwide metropolises, face today and into the future.