Japan x Ethiopia: An Unexpected Architectural Union

Posted on 2010/04/23

Gondar: The Japan Pavilion [ Interior]

Having lived in Japan for more than ten years as well as being born in Ethiopia, makes for an exotic and rare profile. In all my wanderings,  I have hardly met any Ethiopians or Eritreans, Habesha people, in Japan. So, when I read about a project that was recycling architecture between Ethiopia and Japan, to say that my curiosity was peaked would be down playing it. The project combines several interests of mine, Japanese traditional architecture, sustainable and environmentally conscientious design and Africa.

The Millennium Pavilion relocation project began in 2007 to celebrate the Ethiopian millennium1 as way to build a bridge between the two countries. It is located in Gondar a historically rich and significant city in Ethiopia, the imperial capital during the 16th & 17th century.

The project is a collaboration between Atelier Tekuto, the Japanese architectural office and Ethiopian Architect Mr. Fasil Giorgis. The architectural concept, to create new value and architecture that is neither global nor local by relocating abandoned architecture to a different social and cultural setting.

Original Japan Pavilion

Original Japan Pavilion: Traditional Japanese Home (Shimane, Japan)

Atelier Tekuto discovered an abandoned home from Shimane prefecture which was  then disassembled, shipped and reassembled as the Japan Pavilion. It was customized on site with  local materials such as using Shema fabric in place of the rice paper for Shoji windows. It’s great to see a new and clever use for the light handwoven cotton fabric that is typically used in Ethiopian traditional dresses, Habesha Kemis however rain might be a concern.

The building uses solar roof paneling to generate electricity for the compound. Along the same principle, the Ethiopian pavilion is a formerly abandoned traditional Ethiopian circular stone hut that has been customized with windows and a rainwater purification system.

The Ethiopia Pavilion

Original Ethiopia Pavilion: Traditional Ethiopian Circular Stone Structure

The project endeavors to be environmentally-friendly by reusing existing materials and structures creating a smaller carbon footprint than the incineration process. The Research Society on Traditional Japanese Homes located in Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture promotes recycling traditional Japanese homes that would otherwise be destroyed. There are currently more than 30,000 of these homes. I would love to do a project such as this! It seems like a beautiful solution, to reuse a structure which is still viable and beautiful and at a lower cost and price to the environment.

Project Overview

Title: The Japanese Pavilion

Description: Millennium Pavilion Relocation Project

Completed: July 2009

Architects: Atelier Tekuto[Japan] & Fasil Giorgis [Ethiopia]

Location: Gondar, Ethiopia [Region of Amhara]

For more information about:

Atelier Tekuto Co., Ltd.

4-1-20 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 〒 150-0001

Tel: +81 (0)3-6439-5540 Fax +81 (0)3-6439-5541

E-mail: info@tekuto.com

The Research Society on Traditional Japanese Homes

345-9 Higashi Mochida Cho, Matsue, 〒 690-00814 Japan

Tel: +81 (0)852-31-7055 
Fax +81 (0)852-22-7015

E-mail: Kominka@Ms9.megaegg.ne.jp

1. Ethiopia uses a different calender than the Western/Gregorian system. The millennium according to the Ethiopian calendar fell on September 11, 2007.

[Images via Atelier Tekuto and Arcprospect]

Where is Gondar city?

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Posted in: Architecture