Building Africa is delighted to announce the third of its speaker events, ‘Aesthetics of “prosperity”, the Megaprojects of Addis Ababa’, to be given by Brook Teklehaimanot Haileselassie.
17.00-18.30, Thursday 15 February
Brunei Gallery, SOAS, 10 Thornhaugh Street, London WC1H 0XG
The event is free and open to everyone.
To register for this event and to see details of the rest of the programme, visit our website.
The Building Africa Exhibition runs to 16 March 2024 at the Brunei Gallery at SOAS. It is open until 20.00 on Thursdays.
Aesthetics of ‘prosperity’: the Megaprojects of Addis Ababa
Brook Teklehaimanot Haileselassie
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.
Brook is a researcher and PhD candidate in Architecture at the Delft University of Technology.