Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Rethinking the Mall? Going up? #FireTheBox

We should make it clear at the outset that we are not a fan of giant shopping malls. At least not in their current form, and with their current symbolism as a product of urban sprawl. As cities, like Cape Town continue to face the challenges of limited and expensive land, should we rethink the market or the typology of malls as a vertical space or series of spaces. Cities like Madrid, Shanghai, London and now Addis Ababa already have.

The economic and spatial benefits of densification, have largely been documented but additional benefits, as displayed by the Lideta Merkato Centre to be built in Addis Ababa also come into play. The market makes use of the roof, facade and porches as tools to promote a sustainable or “green” building e.g. using the roof and porches for rainwater collection and installing photovoltaic panels for energy storage.

It may be wishful to suggest that density or vertical malls would necessarily improve the architecture we are faced with, especially within the retail environment in Cape Town. But can it get any worse? Ideally it disrupts and changes the current, standard “cut & paste” approach or formula applied to the design of these places. Perhaps this mall in Addis Ababa plays a small part in moving us forward.

Lideta Merkato Center

XV Studio unveils the design of a project of a multistory market, Lideta Mercato, in Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa. This project was the result of a winning entry of a pre-qualified competition that is planned to start construction in May 2011.

The new market is located in an area currently under development in Addis Ababa. The surrounding buildings under construction define a very dense neighborhood based on middle rise residential buildings and a car-based street system. The project is a simple volume that is carved to create an interior world in a multistory contemporary building based on the traditional market principles. The diagonal void connects the two parallel streets and intersects the inclined atrium where the entrance and connections through the levels occur.

The roof contains gathering and recreational areas, a new urban oasis protected from the rain and the sun. The circular porches and the roof collect the water from the rain to be processed and reused for sanitation. The porches also hold a network of photovoltaic panels that produce and store electrical energy for the interior and illuminate up the façade at night.

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