In April 2019, with grant support from the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Addis Ababa, HW launched a major architectural survey to address the devaluation of historical buildings in Addis Ababa. While these buildings are in public domain, in truth, they suffer from lack of custodianship and legal protection. Their individual identity and relevance to both Addis Ababa’s and Ethiopia’s history is in danger of being erased for good.
The goal of the Surveying and Mapping Project is multi-fold. The immediate and practical outcome is to create a revised and more comprehensive database of Addis Ababa’s heritage homes. This resource will be made available to a wide range of groups and organizations interested in the preservation of cultural heritage. These groups include from tourism organizations, commercial developers and government agencies responsible for the care and upkeep of these heritage homes and sites. The creation of this database will initiate greater partnerships with business groups, neighborhoods and government agencies and will serve as foundational knowledge for transforming these heritage sites to become economically and socially viable.
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Too often, significant heritage sites around Addis Ababa go unnoticed.
Following the survey and mapping project, Heritage Watch will take a sample of important heritage sites across Addis Ababa and facilitate the design and installation of physical plaques at select locations. An immediate outcome will be that the profile of these sites will be elevated and their value will be established within the local community and with local and international visitors. This will empower local communities to protect their local heritage sites.
The digital maps and place markers will also be a resource for school and university students. Providing comprehensive information for students’ study of heritage sites in Ethiopia will result in more interest in, and recognition of, Ethiopia’s historical buildings and monuments. This will raise awareness about Ethiopia’s valuable sites within the community, help to foster conservation skills among emerging professionals, and ultimately help to protect these important sites into the future.
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The most recent technological development that has graced Addis Ababa is the light rail network that spirals from various ends of the city to the center. This latest means of public transport is used daily by thousands of people and is now perhaps the most prominent feature of the cityscape. HW is developing projects to promote the creation of murals and public art pieces, inspired by Ethiopia’s wealth of heritage edifices, that would be featured on the cement pillars of new construction projects such as the light rail network. Based on the consultation of various key stakeholders, the development of new preservation and promotion models that blend the historical and modern trends and stories will be critical for making heritage relevance for society.
To promote a stronger pipeline of innovation between cultural preservation initiatives and the tourism market, HW has partnered with artists to produce postcards and other media as tools to educate the public. Addis Ababa is experiencing a steady increase of visitors due to Ethiopia’s rapidly developing tourism industry. Tapping into this trend will improve the development of specialized city tours on heritage homes and neighborhoods, which will promote the visibility and sustainability of sites.
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