Bahir Dar, 2014
Amhara National Regional State Council Office, Parliament Hall and Nile Convention Center
Abba Architects
Project team: studioKAP (design review),
China Jiangsu International Economic- Technical Cooperation Corporation (Contractor)
This project has won the AEA (Association of Ethiopian Architects) award for Outstanding Architectural Piece for 2016.
The Amhara regional parliament and Nile Convention center sits on a small artificially made island near the headwaters of the Blue Nile, close to Lake Tana. The project’s careful siting refers to multiple eras of the region’s history. The islet and its structures evoke the island monasteries of Lake Tana and the buildings and pathways frame a view of the Martyr’s monument on the river’s opposite shore. The 250m x 50m and 12m high rectilinear structure with stainless steel mesh canopy depicts the open markets of Ethiopia under tree shades, symbolizing the complex as “a market place of ideas” inviting the public to participate in the rituals of democratic governance.
The complex includes six buildings housing different functions, drawn together by a series of public plazas sheltered under a vast stainless steel mesh canopy. The cubical parliament hall is centered on a 480-seat auditorium and sits beside a 12-story Council’s office building. The elliptical convention center sits at the heart of the complex, and accommodates 2,000 guests in its large auditorium. The three smaller multipurpose halls vary slightly in size and shape and open on to a shared courtyard platform accessed via a gently sloping ramp from the rest of the complex.
The buildings are distinguished by their geometry and materials. Transparent glazed envelope with louvers distinguish the parliament hall from the rest and contrasts against smooth mosaic façade of the office tower. The irregularly shaped multipurpose halls are cladded by custom made gabion cages filled with dark crushed basalt stones that are dug while the river diversion was done. These monumental blocks symbolize the big boulder stones found along the riverbanks of the Nile. Their rough, almost archaic appearance acts as a foil to the crisply detailed shell of the convention center dome.
Sustainability was a major consideration in the design process. A hybrid natural ventilation system through stack effect and a water based under floor cooling system connected to a cooling tower provide a comfortable and ideal indoor climate while at the same time reducing energy consumptions and CO2 emissions drastically.
The entire landscape is adorned with varieties of Indigenous trees, bushes and aromatic plants reducing the demand for water. The island is approached through three bridges and the central bridge is axially located to correspond to the martyr’s monument on the other side of the riverbank and buffered with landscaped amphitheater seating created for outdoor events.

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