Inside Addis Ababa’s first skyscraper

The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia has inaugurated a skyscraper in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and become the owner of the 53 storey building. It serves as the Headquarters of the state-owned CBE, the country’s largest bank.

The building was constructed with a total cost of 303 million USD and took 5 years and 11 months. The construction work has been carried out by China State Construction Company.

The building has 165 Square Meters Total Floor, 1500 Parking, 2,000 Seats Modern Hall, as well as five halls with a total capacity of holding 200 to 300 people at a time together with staff dining, shops and other facilities.

The building is 198 meters tall with 53 stories, two 5-story podiums, and 20-metre deep underground parking lots. The building design includes 46 above-ground floors, a mezzanine level, a ground floor, and 4 basement levels.

The building will have 150,000 square meters of floor area. Its design includes eight conference halls, an emergency waiting room for disasters, two restaurants on the top two floors, and a sightseeing tower.

Speaking at the inauguration of the new and massive building of the Bank, Prime Minister Abiy said that apart from building modern skyscrapers, all the banks in the country should be equipped with technology and manpower which enable them to be competitive worldwide. As stated by prime minister Abiy, skyscrapers are a sign of civilization.

Addis Ababa is the capital of Africa, the seat of many international institutions including the Africa Union and UNECA. Thus the city deserves to have more skyscrapers like that of CBE. Apart from imperative to win the confidence of tourists, the big building has several advantages.

Most people think that building skyscrapers are a must, while others think that building them is worthless. Skyscrapers are, literally, prominent features of many cities.

They are increasingly dominating urban skylines around the world. Here, it is imperative to raise some points about the importance of skyscrapers as the issue may be a concern of some people considering them as luxury facilities, especially for third world countries.

As many professionals agreed on, institutions are seeking skyscrapers for want of more offices and residents within a limited space. As the human population getting increasing and the advancement of engineering, countries are within the high level of computation filling cities in skyscrapers with attractive designs. In fact, due to the significant increase of the world population nowadays, lands are becoming very rare.

So “using the sky” is the only solution to avoid a shortage of land resources. Skyscrapers can support many floors, vertically, with large spaces.

“These buildings often house a large number of residences and a great number of personal assets which means that these buildings can replace many residences and small buildings that usually take a lot of space when constructed. Skyscrapers can be used in many small countries that have a shortage of land resources.

Otherwise, people living in these tiny countries have no other choice than to leave their country. Many architects, engineers, and planners believe that large and densely- packed urban buildings, if properly designed and constructed to positively respond to the environment, represent an inherently sustainable or green form of development.

To achieve these goals, building professionals are increasingly resurrecting strategies that were routinely employed in smaller structures in the past, such as natural ventilation and shading devices to reduce heat gain, and adapting them to larger and more complex buildings.

Meanwhile, they are exploiting new technologies, from solar power cells to sophisticated wind turbines, to create a new breed of large-scale buildings that are both comfortable and environmentally benign.

These innovations in renewable and other technologies allow some tall buildings to generate their energy. Future tall buildings with high performance, zero energy and carbon neutral attributes will contribute to the ideal of sustainability of future cities.

A tall building has been variously called a “city within a city,” a “vertical city” and a “city in the sky.” Thus it is apparent that a tall building is a microcosm of a large city. The skyscraper is indeed a vertical progression of a horizontal city.

As already noted they are interactive and connected by transportation, power grid, water supply and waste production and disposal systems. Similar to the city that has all these systems, a skyscraper has these systems contained within it. Both the city and tall buildings need to be sustainable for the same reasons.

Skyscrapers are the outgrowth of high land prices and mass density in large cities. Contrary to many common misconceptions, the larger cities worldwide with more than one million people have smaller metabolic flows per capita in terms of energy, water, land inputs and waste outputs than smaller cities.

The reduction of metabolic flows is due to the economics of scale and density, producing greater efficiency in technology, more access to markets for recycling, better public transport, and generally more efficient use of land. A tall building also has analogous agglomeration characteristics like a city.

A taller building, if properly designed, can be more energy-efficient as well as has lower per capita metabolic flows compared to low-rise buildings. The clustering of tall buildings reduces the carbon footprint and contributes to the environmental economy. Moreover, there is a need for re-urbanization of cities to improve their sustainability by increasing the number of (preferably sustainable) taller buildings, which may attract tenants due to their location advantage in the downtowns.

Using the Extended Metabolism model it was concluded that either similar or reduced levels of resource inputs and waste outputs in the high-rise resulted and land efficiency in the high-rise is considerably better as is the management of the wastes.

For some tourists, a famous skyscraper can be the nucleus of an attraction, and for a proportion of these people, seeing it can be an influential factor in the decision to visit a city.

Skyscrapers seduce many tourists from all around the world, which leads to an increase in the country’s benefits. The most visited countries nowadays are those having the tallest and the most attractive skyscrapers. Large cities are the most visited tourist destinations: Beijing and Shanghai in China, Bangkok in Thailand, New York in the USA, etc.

The cities cited above have one of the best economies nowadays due to tourism. As important as attracting tourists, skyscrapers are a source of tax for the city government. Tall buildings have a major role in defining major sustainable cities of the future.

The urban challenge of creating livable cities needs to be vigorously pursued. Ensuring that communities work together within major cities should be a foremost policy for achieving sustainability.

Tall buildings are unavoidable in such cities and must be considered as integral to the quest for sustainability of cities.


The Ethiopian   15 February  2022

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