Plug-in Urban Design for activating blind street frontages of Addis Ababa: the Case of the Central Business District

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Blind fence in this context means, a fence that might has a length of 20 meter and above dead wall along its frontage, with no doors and windows that screens from view the interior of a property or it is not accessible even if it is visible. The existence of blind walls in the Central Business District of Addis Ababa thus causes economic, social and environmental problems on the city residents; which calls for planning and design intervention the blank walls of mega structure buildings not only generate less street activities & poor building- street interaction but they also killed the whole street life. Hence, underutilization of the prime land, inaccessible and inactive street frontages due to dead wall barriers, lack of quality public realm, problem of sense of place, lack of safety and security, environmental pollution, darkness and poor visual quality are some of the major problems in the CBD. The objective of this study is thus, to assess the major causes of the dead street frontages in the CBD and to find out possible solutions for these problems to crate livable, comfortable and active city center. In order to achieve the purpose and objective of the study, a descriptive and explanatory research method is used and different instruments such as: questionnaires, interview as well as different documents are reviewed and a questioner is distributed to a total of 60 pedestrians using simple random sampling technique. Moreover, structured and unstructured interview is conducted with different government officials and other relevant stake holders. Based on this, about 43.2% of the total area of the CBD is found to have dead street frontage and has less contribution for its economic role, there is a problem of safety and security along the dead frontage of most blank walls of mega structure buildings, the blank walls are now become a waste disposal & urinating sites and causes pollution problem in the city and the blind street frontages create poor building- street interaction that in turn kills the whole street life. Generally, the urban quality in the CBD become poor and not comfortable for working and living. Hence, this calls for change of the existing condition by intervene and apply appropriate design and management solutions to activate the dead street frontages and create livable street and vibrant city center using urban design intervention especially of plug-in urban design which could be appropriate method for already developed settlements and urban settings.


This thesis is submitted to the Ethiopia Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EIABC) and to the School of Graduate studies of Addis Ababa University in partial fulfillment of all requirements for Degree of Masters in Urban Design and Development


Plug-in Urban Design, Street Frontages, Inactive Street, Bind street frontages, History, Addis Abab