Architects: Bjarne Mastenbroek and Dick Van Gameren
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Design: Bjarne Mastenbroek, Dick Van Gameren
Assistants: Lada Hrsak, Wilmar Groenendijk, Jack Hoogeboom, Jeroen van Mechelen, Matteo Fosso, Miguel Loos, Michael Davis
Client: Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Completion Date: 2005
Photographs: Christian Richters
The compound of the Dutch Embassy consists of a five-hectare wooded area that slopes steeply towards the city. The design task was to situate the five individual buildings in the compound while retaining and enhancing the quality of the site’s landscape. The strict horizontal volume of the main building cuts into the hill with the sloping terrain naturally dividing the building into two programmatic units; the ambassador’s residence and the chancellery.
The Embassy roof is a shallow pool, an element that combines Dutch tradition in water management and landscape technology, with the natural craggy countryside of Ethiopia. As in the Netherlands everyone lives and works under water. The building is visible at both ends and as the landscape slopes gradually upwards it disappears temporarily, transforming into a pool among the eucalyptus trees.
The other elements of the programme are articulated in a similarly ‘camouflaged’ way; the gatehouse peeks above the entrance wall, wrapped in the colours of the Dutch flag, the extension to the house of the deputy ambassador is slid underneath an existing villa and the three staff houses are built between the north double-wall of the compound.