Addis Ababa. The Awakening City
According to the United Nations’ predictions, the population of Addis Ababa will increase from approximately 4 million to 8 million by 2025. Hence the Ethiopian government has already taken action with urban redevelopment occurring across the capital.
A ‘Sleeping Beauty’ for decades, in the words of Haile Selassie, Ethiopian society is now living the American dream. The new middle class can afford a car and a house in the peripheral areas, shopping at the malls, and dining out in restaurants. Western imagery fosters the renovation of the city, although the American dream is carried out by the Chinese, the most influential among the international investors.
Despite the importance of urban development, there are still unsolved contradictions within society and questions rise about the sustainability of modernization. In Addis Ababa too many citizens do not have access to drinkable water, health cover and education. A large part of the population live in slums, which cover 80% of the overall built surface. New infrastructures are planned without any regard to natural or urban surroundings. Water and air pollution is an issue, and yet there are no strong environmental policies.
This series of photographs aspires to be a look at the process of modernization of Addis Ababa, along with its traditional features. Most of the images are intentionally from a distance, in order to widen the proportion of urban interventions and provoke a sense of loss. At the same time the presence of people provides a more human proportion. The depiction of the most vernacular of places is more intimate and intends to be juxtaposed with the modern city.
La Gare, railway station. Originally called “Compagnie du Chemin de Fer Franco-Ethiopien”, the Ethio-Djibouti Railway that used to link the port of Djibouti to Addis Ababa has not been working since 2006.
A survivor Italian house in the historical neighbourhood of Piazza, near Churchill Avenue. The slums were torn down in order to make space for new modern buildings.
River and slum at Piazza.
Taxi driver. Lada taxis are a legacy of the Derg regime. They are painted in blue and white.
Bathroom entrance in the room of the Empress Menen Asfaw, Haile Selassie’s wife.
The Ethio-China Road, one of the most prominent arteries of the city.
Torhayloch roundabout. Here it will be the end of the line of the Light Railway, to be built by Chinese corporations.
The largest construction site of the Light Railway, at Menelik II square.
Panorama over the Hilton Hotel and Bole. The green and yellow fences delimit a huge construction site, after an informal settlement was demolished.
Boys playing soccer at Meskel square. In the early morning there are runners undertaking their training on the tracks. During the Derg regime this square held parades and other political gathers.
Bethel, construction site.
Bethel, young woman staring at her new house.
Bethel, communal garden.
Abandoned framework in the new neighbourhood of Bethel at Kolfe Keranio, in the western part of Addis Ababa.
Bethel, new house.
The recordings of Ethiopia’s Got Talent at Desalegn Hotel.
Car showroom near Merkato.
Road works near Merkato.
Construction sites on the way to La Gare.
Bar at Piazza.
Council houses in Lideta.
Young woman bringing traditional coffee to a construction site near the government headquarter.
Works in Bole road.
Ethiopian National Theatre.
Traditional tej bar at Old Airport, where Selassie’s military élite used to hang out. Tej is a homemade honey wine, sweet and with a high alcohol content.
Juventus Club near Meskel square. It is an Italian sport club established in the Fifties.
Front porch of a private house at Old Airport.
Former military training camp at Old Airport.
Map of the world of a shipping company at the railway station.
The redevelopment of Merkato - the largest open market in Africa.
According to the plans the shacks will give way to the multi-storey shopping malls.
School at Merkato.
Eucalyptus trees on Entoto Mountain. Builders use eucalyptus wood for scaffoldings.
Young vendor on the way to Entoto Mountain.
Panorama of Addis Ababa from Entoto. Entoto is the place where Menelik II decided to move his palace. The urban expansion has bypassed this area.