• Client:
  • The Federal Sports Commission of Ethiopia
  • Location:
  • Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Partners:
  • DESIGNSPORT, JDAW Architects, John Shenton.
  • Status:
  • Competition Winner 2012
  • Size:
  • 60 Hectares


A FIFA and Olympic-standard 60,000 seat stadium and sports village in Addis Ababa features a design combining local identity with new technology.

LAVA and DESIGNSPORT collaborated with local Ethiopian firm JDAW to win the international architecture competition held by the Federal Sport Commission, Ethiopia.

LAVA, the LABORATORY FOR VISIONARY ARCHITECTURE, and DESIGNSPORT collaborated with local Ethiopian firm JDAW to win the international architecture competition for a national stadium and sports village, held by the Federal Sport Commission, Ethiopia. 

LAVA went back to the very origin of stadium design with a sunken arena surrounded by grandstands formed from excavated material. This man-made crater is a clever remodelling of the existing terrain and generates efficient spaces, optimises environmental performance, minimises construction costs and integrates facilities within the existing landscape.

The design references Ethiopia’s world-famous excavated architecture – centuries old rock churches, dwellings and cisterns. The Massob, an Ethiopian communal serving basket made from woven grass, inspired the façade material that wraps the stadium. The form of the stadium structure seen from the top view also recalls coffee beans, the main source of income in Ethiopia and the 'Mother womb', the skeleton of one of the first humans, Lucy, which is about 3.2 million years old. 

The roof of the stadium, an intelligent membrane, appears like a cloud on the horizon of the vast Ethiopian sky, a lightweight tensile structure floating over the formed-earth landscape. 

The masterplan includes the IOC-standard stadium for FIFA matches, athletics events, concerts, religious and national festivals; and a sports village comprising indoor and outdoor aquatic centres, outdoor pitches, sports halls and arenas, dormitories and the headquarters for the Federal Sport Commission. Hospitality, retail and commercial zones ensure that the precinct is vibrant throughout the year.

Tectonic structures and movement are the underlying concept for the masterplan. The breathtaking beauty of the surrounding Entoto Hills is the backdrop to a design that responds to the volcanic geology of the region. Gently undulating urban parkland follows the lines of the crater and is conceived as a continuous spatial experience strategically activated to balance movement, climate, experience and efficiency. A central plaza forms the heart of the project and a ridge connects all zones. 

Giant solar powered umbrellas provide shade and shelter, whilst pedestrian activated light and water features appear as fissures in the ground surface, providing way-finding and creating animated art works. 

The façade patterns are digitally created through parametric modelling and are built with local materials. The design includes sustainability, maximum flexibility and capacity, and intelligent adaptability. 


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Design: Toko / Development: Damien Aistrope