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Thu, 15 Feb

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Room B103

Aesthetics of 'prosperity': The Megaprojects of Addis Ababa

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Aesthetics of 'prosperity':  The Megaprojects of Addis Ababa
Aesthetics of 'prosperity':  The Megaprojects of Addis Ababa

Time & Location

15 Feb 2024, 17:00 GMT

Room B103, SOAS, University of London Thornhaugh Street, Russell Sq, London WC1B 5DQ, UK

About the event

Summary

As both the commercial and political nucleus of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa has held a pivotal role since becoming the capital in 1889, positioned in the geometric centre of the country and initiating an era where power is centralised in the capital. The change of government in 2018 reaffirmed this centralisation while it marked a significant shift in the dynamics of state politics. Following this change, the new administration unveiled ambitious “mega projects” in Addis Ababa, aiming to signify a ‘fresh’ start for the nation. The projects were launched amidst armed conflicts and political tensions that escalated into a full-out war in 2020, killing hundreds of thousands and displacing millions. However, the city maintains its power and stays immune to the disaster on the fringes.

Given this context, the distinct focus on landmark projects in the city is perceived by many as a political aspiration. Initiatives such as the Unity Park, while advancing local political objectives, function as global showcases for the governing elite. They are presented as testimonials to the claims of prosperity and stability. Meanwhile, projects like the beautifying sheger pledge to transform the city into a clean, green, wetland-conscious city. This talk aims to delve into the subtleties of how these projects pursue a specific aesthetic and explores their utilisation by the state to construct socio-political narratives, enhance its image, and influence aid agencies.

Biography

Brook Teklehaimanot Haileselassie is an architect and a scholar based at the TU Delft.

Brook did his postgraduate studies at the ETH, specializing in Urban Transformations in Developing Territories. Dividing his activities between academia and practice, he founded BOTA Architectoch in 2015, an architectural design firm based in Ethiopia winning numerous Design competition awards. Some of Brooks’ photographic works have been exhibited at the Tel Aviv Museum of Modern Art entitled, South of the Sahara, Accelerated Urbanism in Africa. He served as a guest lecturer and researcher at the Tu Delft Global Housing Studio in 2015. Brook is currently a Delft global fellow and a doctoral candidate at TU Delft.

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