Ali Kriscenski

AGA KHAN AWARDS: Royal Netherlands Embassy

by , 09/06/07

Royal Netherlands Embassy, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dick van Gameren, Bjarne Mastenbroek, Dutch Embassy in Ethiopia, Dutch Embassy in Addis Ababa

With a site-integrated, passive solar design, the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia pays homage to the surrounding nature and cultural diversity with an inherent sensitivity to place. Surpassing functional constraints, the structure’s design quietly supports security while placing emphasis on experience, encounter and efficiency.



Royal Netherlands Embassy, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dick van Gameren, Bjarne Mastenbroek, Dutch Embassy in Ethiopia, Dutch Embassy in Addis Ababa

Architects Dick van Gameren and Bjarne Mastenbroek used the site’s existing topography to integrate the embassy’s main building into the landscape. Surrounded by a dense eucalyptus grove, the structure rests along sloped terrain on an east-west axis. Combined with highly insulated concrete walls, floors and ceilings, the orientation captures natural solar and thermal processes to heat, cool and ventilate, minimizing dependence on mechanical systems.

Like the country that surrounds it, the embassy building reflects a convergence of cultures. The texture and tones of the walls and roof mimic the red-ochre earth of Ethiopia and regional architecture like the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. On its roof, a garden of shallow pools and raised islands suggest the low-lying landscape of the Netherlands.

As a stunning example of a building concept that responds to its cultural and ecological surroundings, the Royal Netherlands Embassy design has been honored with a 2007 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The award recognizes distinguished architecture that encourages social development, restoration, re-use and environmental responsibility in the Islamic world. Dutch architects Dick van Gameren and Bjarne Mastenbroek share the award with Ethiopian firm ABBA Architects.

+ Aga Khan Award for Architecture
+ Aga Khan Development Network
+ Royal Netherlands Embassy

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6 Comments

  1. Christina September 21, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Brilliant all around! This is what happens when East meets West! I’m looking to find ABBA architects, does anybody know where I can find them?

  2. michael B September 10, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    What is magnificent about this buil;ding is the scale. The size and proportions of the room in the photo are so modestly pleasant.

  3. When Offbeat Girls Go M... September 8, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    [...] has this cool structure; more photos and the full specs available for a [...]

  4. Patrick September 6, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    It’s like Rick Joy abandoned the desert for the pastoral landscape of England. Gorgeous!

    Also, ABBA Architects? Brilliant.

  5. Michael September 6, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    Simply beautiful, Ciao M.

  6. Tim September 6, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    It seems like SeArch cannot do anything but make beautiful buildings. I am not quite sure that all the environmentally sound procedures function as they should, but that’s just nit-picking.
    Also, I wasn’t aware that Ethiopia was one of the countries on which the Aga Khan Award is focussed – since it’s mainly a christian country…

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