Australian multi-disciplinary design practice Conrad Gargett, who operates a studio in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, is leading the design to modernise and reactivate iconic Africa Hall. On 10 May 2019, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) signed a partnership agreement with three companies for the main contract:
- CONSTRUZIONI 2000 S.R.I., a corporation, established under the laws of Italy
- Bridge Construction P.L.C., a corporation, established under the laws of Ethiopia
- R.C. Trade Ltd, a corporation, established under the laws of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (U.A.E)
The signing with contractor Africa Hall Projects FZE signifies a paramount milestone for this project. The contract for the renovation and refurbishment of Africa Hall is the most significant ever signed by the ECA with a supplier. The contract value is US $ 28,209,539.57.
Conrad Gargett’s Ethiopian studio team participated in the formal signing ceremony at Africa Hall which will preserve, restore and modernise the original building located at the UNECA headquarters in Addis Ababa Ethiopia by 2021 to enable it to become a major cultural venue.
David Gole, Principal of Conrad Gargett with expertise in heritage architecture, stated, “Since 2013 we have worked on the conservation, restoration and activation of Africa Hall. The project will deliver state-of-the-art conference spaces and a permanent exhibition space to host diplomatic meetings, cultural performances and art exhibitions from across Africa. It will also deliver a visitor’s centre enabling the public to access the building for the first time. The precinct will be beautifully landscaped to further enhance the place as a major international tourist attraction for Ethiopia.” In 2014 Conrad Gargett was formally appointed as the principal consultant to deliver architectural and engineering services for the project.
Conrad Gargett Senior Associate architect Luke Pendergast, who leads the practice’s studio in Ethiopia, stated, “Conrad Gargett look forward to working with Italian company CONSTRUZIONI 2000, local Tier 1 contractor Bridge Construction, and R.C. Trade, a United Arab Emirates logistics company with a long history of working in this region, to deliver the Africa Hall renovation and modernisation project. It is a perfect partnership.”
Pendergast detailed, “The Africa Hall building, designed by regionally influential Italian architect Arturo Mezzedimi, is modernist in style and constructed primarily in reinforced concrete. Inherent with concrete structures over 50 years of age, the fabric begins to deteriorate and requires remediation. Invasive structural works are required to ensure the building can be safely occupied, resists seismic activity and provides equitable access to all. A complete upgrade of technology, services, finishes and fixtures will ensure that Africa Hall is improved to align with today’s standard of international contemporary conference and exhibition facilities and offers long-term economic benefits.”
“The focus of the Africa Hall project is conservation, safety, accessibility and modernisation. All upgrades to the buildings and site have been detailed to be sympathetic with the original design, integrate and enhance site infrastructure, be cost effective and align with current international best practices design guidelines and construction codes,” explained Pendergast.
Africa Hall, originally constructed in 1961, hosted African leaders in 1963 to establish the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), an organisation dedicated to foster a peaceful, prosperous and integrated Africa. The OAU became what is now known as the African Union in 2012. Over time Africa Hall has deteriorated. To commemorate the UNECA’s 50th anniversary in 2008, the United Nations Member States announced their intension to renovate Africa Hall and execute the project in accordance with the United Nations General Assembly’s defined scope.
Conrad Gargett’s Managing Director Lawrence Toaldo stated, “Our practice has expertise with the empathetic and thorough restoration, preservation and adaptive repurposing of heritage and cultural buildings and sites of significance in Australia and offshore. Conrad Gargett is proud to contribute towards making Africa Hall an enduring cultural and community precinct for the people of Africa and foster international tourism.”