Background & Mission


The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) called the new millennium the “age of cities” with mega cities growing rapidly, especially in developing countries. This development calls urgently for adapted and sustainable urban settlement concepts. Ethiopia is no exception where dilapidated housing stocks and a rapidly growing population are creating a dramatic housing crisis. Germany, on the other hand, is currently confronted with drastic rural depopulation causing rural towns to die and large cities to suffer from a housing crisis. Hence, both countries need well-educated architects, engineers, construction managers, urban designers, landscape architects, urban sociologists, etc., that are sensitized for the growing need for sustainable urban development world wide. EiABC and bauhaus.ifex collaborate to benefit from each others experiences and expertise.

Seen from a historical perspective, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar (BUW) has a long history of learning through full-scale experiments which can be traced back to the bauhaus nearly 100 years ago. This is why EiABC has been collaborating with bauhaus.ifex, the institute for experimental architecture at BUW since 2009. Since then, we have worked together to improve the education of young urban professionals in Ethiopia and Germany with a strong focus on learning through research, practice, and exchange. Following this positive experience, EiABC and bauhaus.ifex established the Emerging City Lab - Addis Ababa (ECL-AA) in 2015.

The title of the lab refers to so-called "emerging cities" which points out those towns and cities in the Global South which are currently facing rapid population growth. In the context of Ethiopia such cities might be the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, regional capitals such as Bahir Dar or those rural towns which develop from small settlements in the coming 15 years. But the focus is not on Ethiopia exclusively. We aim to exchange findings and methods with researchers and practitioners from Germany and other African nations at all times. In this context, the lab serves as a framework to enable teaching and research that is directed towards practice-based and interdisciplinary research as well as design in the context of emerging cities with Ethiopia as a showcase. Furthermore, the lab is directed towards the improvement of relevant structures and skills to further push for an innovative research and teaching environment at BUW and EiABC.

ECL-AA is governed by an Ethio-German Steering committee and supported by an Advisory board of public institutions and industry partners. The lab is hosted by EiABC campus of Addis Ababa university and is currently co-funded by Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and Addis Ababa University with project based support from the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as well as Flintstone Homes PLC. Administration is being handled locally at each of the secretariats in Addis Ababa and Weimar.


The ECL-AA aims to facilitate interdisciplinary research and teaching on emerging cities of the Global South with the specific goals to:

  • test design and planning ideas as well as hypotheses concerning emerging cities and their built environment, and suggested solutions  under a lab condition;
  • implement and test innovative ideas in the urban context;
  • publish on, teach about, and create a network on practice-based and interdisciplinary planning in Ethiopia and Africa;
  • qualify teaching and research staff through interdisciplinary, intercultural, and practice based projects (capacity building);
  • pass these skills on to students through regular semester projects, workshops, and field trips which are directly connected to the ECL-AA’s research;
  • exchange student and staff members.

The ECL-AA is based on a broad array of researchers, students, and teaching staff from both institutions together with practitioners and policy makers through joint teaching and research projects.  Interdisciplinary and international cooperation as well as practice orientation is at the core of the center. The ECL-AA is committed to constantly broadening its network and to cooperate with new partners from research and teaching.

Find out who is part of ECL-AA

This page contains research projects, physically implemented prototypes and other partnership based projects