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Xavier Vilalta: Architecture at Home in Its Community

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on November 22, 2013

Barcelona-based architect Xavier Vilalta was commissioned to create a multistory shopping mall in Addis Ababa, he panicked. Other centers represented everything he hated about contemporary architecture: wasteful, glass towers requiring tons of energy whose design had absolutely nothing to do with Africa. In this charming talk, Vilalta shows how he champions an alternative approach: to harness nature, reference design tradition and create beautiful, modern, iconic buildings fit for a community.

Vilalta shares that when he first was approached about designing this mall, his instinct was “to AddisLidetaMercado2run away.” He hated the idea of building a big, Western-inspired mall that was generally empty because no one could afford the shops, that needed tons of energy to cool because its glass façade trapped the heat, and that took no inspiration whatsoever from Ethiopian traditions around it. In this talk, Vilalta shares how he approached this design, which is currently in the process of being built, by making the mall more like an Ethiopian open-air market with small shops. Rather than glass walls, he used concrete blocks with square cutouts to create a textile-like façade that would allow cross-ventilation.

AddisLidetaMercadoIf you look closely at the Lideta Mercato — a shopping mall in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, designed by TED Fellow Xavier Vilalta — you will notice a unique pattern on its skin, inspired by the beautiful, bold patterns found on Ethiopian women’s dresses. But if you look closer, you will also notice something else: that the design is based on fractal geometry.

Named young architect of the year at the Leaf Awards in 2008, Xavier Vilalta is the founder of XVA, a Barcelona-based design team operating in the fields of architecture, urbanism and research.



XVA unveils the design of a multipurpose building in the historical city of Dire Dawa, Ethiopia.

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Xavier Vilalta Arquitectura



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