The new Dutch embassy in Adis Abeba designed by mecanoo is located in a site with five hectares of eucalyptus woods, dropping steeply into a valley. The new buildings blend with the landscape, with a winding road as the connecting element with the historic villa.
Dutch Embassy and residence technical information
- Architects : mecanoo
- Location : Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- Typology : Residential / Embassy, Residence
- Programme : Chancellery, residence for the vice ambassador, 3 staff residents, school building, entrance building, technical supporting structure, garden and landscape design for the whole plot
- Area : 5,5 ha
- Design : Dick van Gameren and Bjarne Mastenbroek
- Design Team: Project of De Architectengroep, designed by Dick van Gameren, partner at Mecanoo since 2013, and Bjarne Mastenbroek, owner of SeARCH.
- Client : Ministry of Foreign Affairs The Hague, the Netherlands
- Contractor : Elmi Olindo & CO. PLC., Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- Collaborators : Structural engineer Ove Arup & Partners, London Assistants Lada Hrsak, Mike Davis, Matteo Fosso, Willmar Groenendijk, Jack Hoogeboom, Sebastiaan Kaal, Miguel Loos, Jeroen van Mechelen, Holger Muhrmann, Remco van Buuren
- Project Year : 2005
- Photographs : © Christian Richters
The embassy with ambassador’s residence is situated in the centre of the terrain in a long, horizontal volume that seems to have been carved out of the landscape, like a traditional Ethiopian church carved out of the rock.
– mecanoo Architects
Project Description by mecanoo Architects
The site of the Dutch embassy on the outskirts of Adis Abeba consists of five hectares of eucalyptus woods, dropping steeply into a valley. The historic villa on the edge of the site has been expanded, while the embassy and residence of the ambassador, three homes for members of staff and the entrance are new. The new buildings blend with the landscape, with a winding road as the connecting element.
The gatehouse, camouflaged in the colours of the Dutch flag, peers over the wall on the street side. The extension of the villa, which is occupied by the Vice Ambassador, has been placed beneath the existing house, which now seems to float above the garden. The three homes for staff are situated behind a wall, next to the wall that surrounds the site. The difference in gradient means that they are placed one behind the other like terraces, and that all residents enjoy an unobstructed view.
Carved out of the landscape
The embassy with ambassador’s residence is situated in the centre of the terrain in a long, horizontal volume that seems to have been carved out of the landscape, like a traditional Ethiopian church carved out of the rock. The outside walls are of rough concrete in the same red colour as the ground.
The landscape intersects the volume on the borderline of the two functions. At this point the road embedded in the landscape passes over the building, before dropping to the covered visitors entrance of the residence. The roof, that comes into sight at the moment that the road intersects the building, has been implemented as a shallow pond, a reference to the Netherlands in the uneven Ethiopian landscape.
The embassy is simple in structure, with offices on either side of a central corridor. This corridor rises with the gradient of the site. The entrance is situated at the lowest point of the corridor, at the end. There is enough space here for an intermediate level, where the ambassador’s office is situated. It is connected via a stairway to the rooftop path leading to the residence. The residence has two storeys. The upper floor contains the formal reception rooms, while the lower one contains the private rooms. Light shafts and patios link the areas inside and outside the building. As a result of the difference in gradient of the site, both floors are at ground level, so that they can be used entirely independently of one another. Three concealed stairways – one for the ambassador, one for his family, and one for staff – form the internal routes between the floors.