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Water Urbanism: Addis Ababa

Urban Design Studio III, Spring 2020

Kate Orff (Coordinator), Lee Altman, Adriana Chavez, Dilip da Cunha, Geeta Mehta, Thaddeus Pawlowski, Julia Watson, Fitsum Gelaye

Description The Urban Design Studio’s goal is to develop spatial design concepts that strengthen the social, economic, and ecological capital for Addis Ababa. Rapid population growth has resulted in haphazard urbanization, including many Kebele neighborhood housing areas and high-rise condominium buildings. The city’s urban explosion has left its rivers and water bodies neglected; some were filled in to accommodate expansion.

The 2017 master plan for Addis Ababa allows the development of many condominium buildings in the periphery of the city, where people from kebele housing in the prime downtown area are being moved to make way for the so-called “world-class downtown” projects. Beautifying Shegar is one such government-sponsored project that has already displaced a large number of kebele residents, who now live far from their livelihoods, public transport, and social infrastructure that low-income people need to survive and thrive.

After careful study of the Beautifying Shegar project and its impacts, the Urban Design Studio developed alternatives to the top-down planning process that would make Addis Ababa more resilient to climate shocks and usher in holistic development.The studio also explored the power and potential of water to make Addis Ababa a truly world-class city of the future.

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