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An inspiring concrete vision

An inspiring concrete vision

Throughout history, the means of expression of humans have evolved with time. Our culture, identity and existence depends on our lifestyle and progress, the way we express ourselves, the artifacts we build, and the culture we develop. All of these are reflections of what we are, what we have learned and what we will be remembered by.

One of these art forms is architecture with utilitarian conception, and an abstraction of beauty completely devoted to its dignity and purpose, a mirror of what we are.  Holding a great power in shaping our infrastructure with a limitless imagination and pragmatism, it’s a window to measure our taste, desires, and ambitions.

And thanks to massive technological advances in a relatively short period, we have evolved faster than during medieval time; we have become more efficient in articulating better ways of expressing our society and lifestyle. One of the ground-breaking edifices in Addis Ababa embodying both aesthetical and functional values is Dembel City Center.

Built-in 2002 in the heart of the city, Bole, Dembel City Center features open spaces and offers a variety of interesting experiences that compel the discerning customer to frequent it. Harnessing technical ingenuity and intricate structures, Dembel qualifies as one of the attractive buildings standing in Addis Ababa. Covering some 40,000 m2 floor area with a spacious basement, ground floor and 12 stories. It has a well-secured double-deck parking lots that accommodates 500 vehicles at a time.

The building is appreciated for its efficient round-the-clock security personnels assisted by surveillance CCTV cameras. The building administrator says it hosts around 300 retail shops and 70 offices. It has two public entrances. One leads to the basement parking floors while the other takes users straight to the inner part of the building. When one enters through the front gates, there is a flight of stairs made up of eight steps. According to a research paper by Taeka Haileleul, an architecture graduate student, though this may prove to be a weak design plan for disabled people, they can still enter through the basement.

On the ground floor, there are 60 shops which, though well-ventilated, are lighted artificially since they are located in a relatively darker space with multiple corridors. The shops climb all the way up to the fourth floor. The rest of the building is set aside for offices uses. The building encompasses three main stairs, four elevators as well as two fire and other emergency escapes. It was constructed by its sister company Yencomad Construction Plc. The imaginative Yemeru Nega is the owner and developer of the sister companies.

As one of the pioneer malls in the city, Dembel represents a tremendous possibility on how we can transform and intertwine our culture into a moderate artifact. It was the beginning of nascent architectural endeavors, particularly in commercial buildings; our expectations and what we ought to experience was defined.  It gets more interesting when one navigates through it, with the new expansion, a four-story building rising to the top of the Parking Complex at the rear side of the building, lending it an additional attractive efficacy. 

The fact that the building has a tenant mix—a reference to the type and number of product categories in the mall that are provided to customers—has made it preferable. While location determines the success of any shopping center, the construction of the Africa Avenue Road, off which it is sited, considerably impeded its accessibility. The hinderance to convenient access, an important consideration in shopping mall selection both by retailers and customers, has made it difficult for users to have an easy reach to the building as they did some years before. However, despite this setback it has managed to retain its identity and dignity through its sense of simplicity, enhancing its value as an expression of the public taste and service to the general public.

“Although the complicated structure and the absence of information has made it challenging to easily understand the building, the recycling area makes it more comfortable to navigate the building with consolation,” says  Abraham  Nega, head of VOX Construction PLC. With multiple cafes and food retailing shops, the place vibrates and gives it a sense of living at all times.

The fast-paced growth of the national economy and technology coupled with the rapidly growing number of malls has had a huge effect on the attraction and flavor of customer choices when it comes to the shopping experience. Given the slew of shopping malls in operation today, decision making on which mall to set up the business has become more challenging.

Unfortunately, most of the shops are pressured to close down for various reasons and perhaps due to lack of appealing designs and lack of inviting tastes. The absence of proper infrastructure and aesthetic limitation and regulation in terms of building harmony, color blandness and unifications as a sign of a specific state also contributes to the attraction of many buildings. With no regulation an investor or architect can develop and invest in a building without restriction on harmony, tending to make a building lose its character through time.

Overall,  Dembel City Center stands in yellow serenity and a soothing reflection of blue and brown mixed glass all the way through. Half of the front structure stands as an articulated witness to the invention of something new of its kind with evolving structure whose beauty can reach, in a convulated and lucid paradox, to everyone who gets to experience its offerings. Dembel will always be one of the best architectural works and an inspiration for modern buildings in Addis Ababa.