Ethiopian Vernacular
Zoma Contemporary Art Centre - Ethiopia
The proposal for the first independent Ethiopian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale was recently approved by the Biennale Committee. This exhibition, entitled “Ethiopian Vernacular Architecture,” is set to take place in 2018. The commissionaire of the pavilion is H.E. Minister Dr. Hirut Woldemariam. The Pavilion will be curated by Meskerem Assegued. Currently, Ethiopia is on a race for economic development and modernization. As the country stepping forth into a new era, its traditional vernacular architectural heritage is slowly but surely fading. The aim of this pavilion is to show the world not only the heritage of the country’s indigenous vernacular construction techniques, but also to demonstrate its future use and reaffirm its significance in our country today. This project will incorporate architecture of the past, present and the future. We will dissect the environmentally sound construction techniques and reinterpret the vernaculars into innovative and futuristic buildings. The presentation will include photography, videos as well as two and three-dimensional architectural drawings. In order to create the most highly professional exhibit possible, we are partnering with the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC) and Zoma Contemporary Art Center (ZCAC). EiABC is a section of the Addis Ababa University Department of Architecture. It is a home for Architecture, Urbanism and Construction Technology and Management. This institution focuses on providing university-level architectural knowledge as well experimentation and exploration of vernacular architecture. ZCAC is an eco-sensitive art center where art and vernacular architecture meet. The center was built through a combination of ancient Ethiopian traditional and modern construction techniques. It is co-founded and directed by Meskerem Assegued and Elias Sime. Meskerem, the curator of this exhibition, has shown numerous exhibitions of this nature in international destinations around the world. In 2014 the New York Times listed ZCAC as one of the 52 top places to visit. In 2016 it was also nominated as one of the Ethiopian landmark architectural constructions in Ethiopia, recently showcased in the exhibition Post Millennial Architecture in Ethiopia, and was nominated for the Ethiopian Architectural Society’s award as one of the Best Architectures in Ethiopia. As such, these institutions are ideal partners to help develop a powerful representation of the diversity of Ethiopian traditional architectural styles and what they can contribute to innovations in contemporary architecture today. We have also completed planning of the exhibition, including the works of a number of architects, photographers, and artists who have agreed to participate in the project. We will be creating an interactive and memorable experience at the Biennale. We plan on holding public discussions at the pavilion with invited architects and specialists, holding a raffle to promote tourism in Ethiopia, including interactive games and installations and well as a musical performance by renowned musician, Mulatu Astatke. In addition to introducing Ethiopian vernacular architecture, this pavilion will present a unique solution and commitment to the current challenges of climate change and will inspire a new wave of tourism.
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