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. Ethiopia needs well-educated architects, engineers, construction managers, and urban designers to meet
housing challenges and further sustainable urban development. Looking at higher education in architecture in Ethiopia though, EiABC and bauhaus cannot but notice that Ethiopia is not making use of the potential that lies in practice-based learning and research.
Seen from a historical perspective, 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. Together, we aim to improve the education of young architects, engineers, and urbanists in Ethiopia and Germany with a strong focus on learning through research and mutual exchange of knowledge and people. Following the positive experience of this intense academic partnership, EiABC and bauhaus.ifex continue their partnership by establishing the Emerging City Lab - Addis Ababa (ECL-AA) in 2015.
The title of the lab - Emerging Cities - stands for 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.
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 create an interdisciplinary, intercultural, and practice-based research and teaching environment at bauhaus.ifex 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 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, hypotheses, and suggested solutions concerning emerging cities and their built environment under lab conditions,
- 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 as well practitioners and policy makers through joint teaching and research projects. Hereby, the ECL-AA puts particular emphasis on displaying the special focus of BUW and EiABC: interdisciplinary and international cooperation as well as practice orientation. The ECL-AA is committed to constantly broadening its network and to cooperating with new partners from research and teaching.