We chose to set-up shop in Addis Ababa due to the tenacity and skill of its citizens, along with an abundance of high quality leathers and natural materials. We stayed due to the rich history of the city, and its bright future.
As the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa serves as a living tapestry detailing the history of one of Earth’s oldest civilizations. A tour of the city reveals an array of palaces, museums and ultra-modern construction projects that represent the future of the continent’s fastest growing economy.
Light Rail System
Addis Ababa recently opened the first light rail transit system in Sub-Saharan Africa, as a means of alleviating the traffic concerns typical of a growing economic hub. This new rail line has opened up the city both for its citizens, and to foreign investors who saw it as an impressive opportunity. After completion of construction, Ethiopia was able to secure loans to build a new rail line from Addis to the port of Djibouti, drastically cutting shipping cost and time, while simultaneously opening up accessibility to many remote areas previously vulnerable to famine. No matter how you look at it, these rail systems have been a huge success for Ethiopia, and represent a huge step in the right direction.
When famed architect Xavier Vilalta set out to build Addis Ababa’s newest shopping mall, he realized that many of the existing examples were missing a vital link to the traditional markets of the past, which incorporated public space to foster a sense of community and energy. It’s unique, minimalist design limits internal temperature through the open-air ventilation and fractal-pattern windows which limit direct light. The architects have also included a rain water collection feature, which supplies water for sanitation needs, along with solar panels on the exterior to supply energy for the market. This new building stands in stark contrast to much of the older architecture around it, giving a hint to the future look of this growing city.
While new construction is happening all over Addis, many historic buildings have been re-purposed into centers of learning and culture. The former presidential palace of Haile Selassie has been transformed into one of Africa’s most respected museums, on the campus of Addis Ababa university. The Ethnological museum holds some of the country’s most prized artifacts, with pieces from all stages of their history, right back to a replica of the famed Lucy hominid, our oldest link to the past with which we all share a common heritage. A visit to the museum gives a cultural context to a proud and storied civilization, and is practically a must for anyone who wants to see the best Addis Ababa has to offer.
We feel so lucky to fit into such an intriguing city in our own little way. The leather and garment industries are helping Ethiopia and Addis realize their true potential, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.