Football and athletics-loving Ethiopians will have a new FIFA and Olympic-standard 60,000 seat stadium in Addis Ababa thanks to a competition winning design combining local identity with new technology. LAVA, the LABORATORY FOR VISIONARY ARCHITECTURE, and DESIGNSPORT collaborated with local Ethiopian firm JDAW to win the international architecture competition for a national stadium and sports village, held by the Federal Sport Commission, Ethiopia. Chris Bosse, LAVA director, said: “We have gone back to the very origin of stadium design with a sunken arena surrounded by grandstands formed from excavated material. This man-made crater is a clever remodelling of the existing terrain and generates efficient spaces, optimises environmental performance, minimises construction costs and integrates facilities within the existing landscape. ” Addis architect Daniel Assefa and director of JDAW said: “The design references Ethiopia’s world-famous excavated architecture – centuries-old rock churches, dwellings and cisterns. We see the sports city as a natural extension to this heritage, one that will draw many more visitors to our beautiful country.” The Massob, an Ethiopian communal serving basket made from woven grass, inspired the façade material that wraps the stadium. Daniel Assefa also notes: “The form of the stadium structure seen from the top view also recalls coffee beans, the main source of income in Ethiopia and the ‘Mother womb’, the skeleton of one of the first humans, Lucy, which is about 3.2 million years old”. The roof of the stadium, an intelligent membrane, appears like a cloud on the horizon of the vast Ethiopian sky, a lightweight tensile structure floating over the formed-earth landscape. The masterplan by the JDAW/DESIGNSPORT/LAVA CONSORTIUM includes the IOC-standard stadium for FIFA matches, athletics events, concerts, religious and national festivals; and a sports village comprising indoor and outdoor aquatic centres, outdoor pitches, sports halls and arenas, dormitories and the headquarters
for the Federal Sport Commission. Hospitality, retail and commercial zones will ensure that the precinct is vibrant throughout the year. Tectonic structures and movement are the underlying concept for the masterplan. The breathtaking beauty of the surrounding Entoto Hills is the backdrop to a design that responds to the volcanic geology of the region. Gently undulating urban parkland follows the lines of the crater and is conceived as a continuous spatial experience strategically activated to balance movement, climate, experience and efficiency. A central plaza forms the heart of the project and a ridge connects all zones. Giant solar powered umbrellas provide shade and shelter whilst pedestrian activated light and water features appear as fissures in the ground surface, providing way finding and creating animated art works. Bosse, who was one of the lead architects of the Beijing Watercube whilst at PTW architects, has again combined new technology with traditional architectural principles. The façade patterns are digitally created through parametric modelling and are built with local materials. CEO of DESIGNSPORT Samantha Cotterell said: “We put together our culturally diverse team to produce an innovative concept. We are excited at the prospect of taking our expertise and translating it through the cultural lens of Africa.” “With sustainable design features, maximum flexibility and capacity, and intelligent adaptability, the new facilities will make a valuable contribution to the local people, the nation and its culture, enhancing Ethiopia’s sporting profile and generating revenue,” added Cultural Consultant and Architect, John Shenton. LAVA’s German directors, Alexander Rieck and Tobias Wallisser said: “Coming from a football nation ourselves we are thrilled that LAVA can contribute to this African nation’s joy in the global sport.” The construction of the stadium is expected to commence in 2014.