Responsiveness of Urban Renewal in Historic Quarters The case of Haile Selassie Street, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia


The 130-year-old city of Addis Abeba currently has two hundred seventy-four historical sites and structures registered by the city’s Culture and Tourism office. However, todays rapid urban renewals of the city have a major challenge on sustainable development that integrate cultural heritage and future aspirations for urban environment. Economic growth and new property development have been the dominant orientation in Ethiopian government for the last two decades of its history. Favoring economic development has led to the destruction of numerous urban built heritages and historic urban fabric. The study, therefore, aims to assess the responsiveness of current urban renewal practices in historic quarters and to draw recommendations and alternative proposals which can steer the process of urban renewal in historic city quarters. The study examines previous urban renewal projects in historic urban quarters and current urban conservation practices of Addis Abeba. In order to draw the recommendations, the study is done in three parts: the first section focus on assessing built heritage conservation of Addis Abeba city; second section focus on identifying the spatial and visual qualities of Haile Selassie street. Finally, third section focus in measuring the level of responsiveness of the urban renewals to urban built heritages by taking 2002 and 2013 piazza LDPs as case study. The data are primarily collected through qualitative techniques supplemented by a quantitative method. This study is dominated by a qualitative approach with exploratory nature and also incorporates the quantitative method. The investigation employed in-depth interview with key informants, site observation, mapping, desk review of relevant publications and archival research of official records. The study revealed the uncoordinated urban conservation effort between the AACTO and the city’s land administration and renewal office result the destruction of valuable built heritages. The study also found out the previous urban heritage rules and regulation seems unusable since the defined objectives are either not understood nor respected by the stakeholders. Both LDP case proposals acknowledge Piazza as a historic urban heritage quarter with its own unique architectural character and sense of place. Yet, both proposals failed to consider urban conservation as a major tool for renewal and development. The study found Haile Selassie street and its surrounding area as unique urban district having six building types and architectural forms. According to site survey, Haile Selassie street historic quarter has the sources of an enormous and valuable heritages including testimonies of Indian and European architecture, and decorative arts and crafts mixed with vernacular construction system. All built heritage structures, diversity of the community, active street life and visual corridor to imperial palace gives the street its own sense of place to the neighborhood. Therefore, the study recommends the Historical Landscape approach method for planning Haile Selassie street urban quarter. Local development plan of Haile Selassie street and all Addis Abeba historic urban quarters should have detailed guidelines and regulations on how to develop infills as well as streetscape that resemble with existing sense of place.


Thesis Submitted to the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC), Addis Ababa University, Postgraduate Program Office in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement of Master of Science in Urban Conservation and Architectural Heritage


Historical Landscape, Addis Ababa, heritages, Urban Fabric, Street character, Building Character