Dwelling Graduation Studio
An Architecture of Enablement: A Participatory Housing Process for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Who are we to dictate how others should live?
This question becomes even more provoking in unfamiliar contexts such as Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Since importing Western models of mass housing production, Addis Ababa has chosen a short-term solution to its problems of rapid urbanisation which favours efficiency over sensitivity, standardisation over flexibility and homogenous illusion over heterogeneous reality.
My response to this imbalance is not to tip the scales in the other direction. Instead, ‘An Architecture of Enablement’ creates a model for co-existence between top-down and bottom-up decision-making in the Global South. It suggests that current methods of housing production can be adopted in initial phases of construction, while participatory design, fundamentally rooted in informal practices of Addis’ dwellers, can take place at a later stage on a smaller scale. This ideological shift from ‘housing product’ to ‘housing process’ aims to create a win-win situation, meeting immediate housing demand and sowing the seeds for a cohesive and loved home for communities.