Addis Ababa – Yeka, a territory for the Beta Israel community, wandering Jews of Ethiopia

by Nicolas Brigand from Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Strasbourg, France
Tutored by: Louis Piccon

Author comments:

After the end of the Aliyah, two Ethiopian Jewish communities remained in Addis Ababa.

The aim of this project is to fulfil the needs of the Beta Israel community: a need for understanding and recognition. The creation of a place dedicated to a sedentary community, but long condemned to wandering, is essential.

The issue at stake here is to rethink local building techniques. Instead of importing expensive construction materials and inadequate building models, the whole project, excavated from the ground, uses local resources, makes good use of thermal inertia and promotes resilience by exploring several structural typologies based on vernacular architecture.

The program is divided in three major entities.

The community center is made of two buildings and shelters a library, a Yeshiva, an office space and a small daily-use synagogue.

A little higher, the museum is a long parallelepiped, perforated by 12 regular openings, organized by hangings suspended to eucalyptus rods.

Upper on the hill, tow memorial entities are linked by a path, dug into the ground and marking the alignment between Jerusalem, the historical site of the Aliyah, and the airport of Addis Ababa.

In the mikveh, the collected rain water is stored into the ritual bath right under the oculus.

On the highest point, the memorial synagogue is structured by successive layers, concentrically organized around the Bimah. In there, a soft light coming from above leads the end of the procession towards the sky.

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