The Chair of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel at FCL Singapore together with Heinrich Boell Foundation and the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development is organizing an international workshop to develope a vision for Addis Ababa in the year 2050. The African population is growing fast and urbanization will shape the coming decades. Existing cities are changing rapidly and new infrastructures and buildings are constructed at an enormous speed, ambitious plans are in place to create dozens of new cities from scratch. Currently, the focus of this development seems to be “catching up” with developed or emerging economies. In many cases, a ‘copy/paste’ mentality to urban development includes a repetition of the mistakes made elsewhere: expensive imported construction materials such as cement, glass and steel are preferred over locally available and more sustainable solutions, public spaces are diminishing, an increasing separation of working and living quarters enlarges transportation needs and traffic concepts concentrate on cars and individual rather than public transportation.
The aim of the workshop is to demonstrate the advantages of realizing bold visions rather than a continued ‘business as usual’ by envisioning a possible alternative development path of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa over the next 30-40 years. The results will be presented at a two-day conference held in Addis Ababa in October 2012, open to both an Ethiopian and a wider African as well as intenational audience of academics, politicians, government representatives from relevant ministries and authorities and experts from continental institutions based in Ethiopia. A particular focus of this debate will be on the opportunities of constructing much of the needed infrastructure for the first time in the context of expanding cities – as opposed to cities faced with the challenge of adapting existing infrastructure to new challenges.