LAVA Designs New National Stadium and Sports Village for Ethiopia

LAVA Designs New National Stadium and Sports Village for Ethiopia

Ethiopian football and athletics fans 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 and Designsport, in collaboration with local Ethiopian firm JDAW, won the international architecture competition for a national stadium and sports village, held by the Federal Sport Commission, Ethiopia.

"We have gone back to the very origin of stadium design with a sunken arena surrounded by grandstands formed from excavated material," said Chris Bosse, director of LAVA. "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."

"The design references Ethiopia's world-famous excavated architecture - centuries-old rock churches, dwellings and cisterns," added Daniel Assefa, director of JDAW. "We see the sports city as a natural extension to this heritage, one that will draw many more visitors to our beautiful country."

The façade material that wraps the stadium is inspired by the Massob, an Ethiopian communal serving basket made from woven grass, whilst the shapes of the facade system appear as coffee beans, the main source of income in Ethiopia. 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 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.

"We put together our culturally diverse team to produce an innovative concept," said Samantha Cotterell, CEO of Designsport. "We are excited at the prospect of taking our expertise and translating it through the cultural lens of Africa."

The construction of the stadium is expected to start in 2014.


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