Eyob describes himself as an Ethiopian architect who has a strong desire for the Ethiopian arts in general. He works on the architecture and arts of Ethiopian origins and styles.

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Eyob at his design Studio 2012_©Eyob Enkossa Profiles

‘As an architect, people expect me to only work and engage on house, and building designs but my passion is also to exclusively work and engage in the arts, crafts, and details’ says Eyob when he speaks about the nature of his practice and the design application of his favorite vernacular styles.

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Eyob has been featured on ‘The Reporter’ weekly Newspaper on June 21, 2009 discussing about Ethiopia and Ethiopians on painting art_©TheReporter

He has studied his primary education, nursery Up to eighth class, at the  Meskaye Hizunan Medhane Alem monastery high school in Addis Ababa. After completing his preparatory studies, he joined the Addis Ababa university science faculty at 4 kilo. Even if he was enrolled for studying sciences at the science faculty at Addis Ababa University, he was curious and interested in the discipline of architecture. 

He says his architecture student colleagues and architecture students at his village inspired him to join the multidisciplinary field of architecture; their style, how they speak, and think was unique and full of motivations and inspirations for the young him. During his freshman study at the university, Eyob heard about the architecture enrollment exam on which he and some 25 people made it to join to study architecture and town planning.

‘I was enrolled for studying sciences and cause of my interest for the arts; I have later joined architecture which is referred by many as a study that incorporates both the sciences and the arts’ says Eyob.

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Sabean letters engraved corner lamp shade art_©Eyob Enkossa Profiles

This was the time he had started his journey towards learning architecture at one of the most anticipated architecture schools of his time in Ethiopia, the building college which was later renamed the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EIABC) in March 2010. After his successful graduation at the building college in architecture and town planning, he started to work for a local office that primarily works on projects with excessive use and application of Ethiopian crafts, arts, and handicrafts in 1998. 

He described his first job as a very happy start of practicing architecture in which he got the chance to work on materials that possess an untapped potential for interior design, building applications, and decoration like bamboo, wood, and steel. Moreover, he was also assigned to work on the interior design projects of the airport projects mostly found in North Ethiopia including Gonder, Lalibela, Axum, and Mekele airports during the same year. He was assisted by his senior professionals and he was also privileged to air-travel to the project sites and visit the airports, their contexts, their surrounding cultures, and their social routines as a primal input for the site analysis and design conception purposes.

Before he engaged with airport interior designs at his first official work, he was approached by private clients to design a bar at Bole Olympia in Addis Ababa by which he notes he was working on wood and he has rewarded a good fee.

The architect Eyob has also studied fine arts and design in the extension program for two years and he graduated from the art school of the Addis Ababa University to bridge the communication gap he faced when he started to work with senior painters, and artists during his first employment. After 5 years from his fine art and design graduation, he has also completed his postgraduate study in the field of urban design and city planning from the science facility of Addis Ababa University, the building college in 2009.

Eyob says he really appreciates the organic and natural use and treatments of materials like wood, brick, and leather. He has a critical and strong desire for the organic enhancement and treatment of natural materials and he firmly believes these materials should be left treated and preserved in a way true to their beautiful nature and appearances.

‘We can treat a wood with a varnish and preserve its antiquity rather than painting it with other colors that earth its identity’ says Eyob

 

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Ethiopian style parapet wall of a cultural center by adapting the Monolithic Lalibela church_s window motives_©Eyob Enkossa Profiles

Eyob loves teaching and sharing his diverse experiences in design with his students. He is well known for his thinking that students shouldn’t get lower marks. They should get interesting lecture sessions to entertain their academia. He wants to help and inspire his students in a way they can feel confident and flexible.

Eyob is hardly influenced by his lawyer father who used to give priorities to providing honest legal services for his clients rather than negotiating fees. Architect EyobEnkosa was also more interested in the job from his private clients than their fees. “One senior and famous Ethiopian architect criticized me for this — that I shouldn’t work in such aspects that won’t sustain my life and my practice career”, says Eyob.

Eyob believes he has influenced his clients and his students through striving to integrate international standards in local practices and designs by romanticizing and interpreting them to the Ethiopian context.

He has mentioned his masterpiece building which has a program of a cultural center and resembles the character of ‘little Ethiopia’. Eyob says he has proudly applied the vernacular beautification elements of the Ethiopian architecture including the famous monkey-heads, carved Sabeanletters, and so on the parapet modification, wallpaper application, and interior designs of the cultural center respectively.

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A cultural center_©Eyob Enkossa Profiles

Eyob is interested in the architectural styles of Castles. He was luckily advised by the Ethiopian laureate, artist Afewerk Tekle regarding the style and application of his favorite structures, castles. The celebrated Ethiopian laureate has a very famous and unique self-designed castle, his home and studio, Villa Alpha in Ethiopia. 

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CastlE inspired entrance emphasis_©Eyob Enkossa Profiles

Eyob advises young architecture students to strive to primarily get sufficient design experiences and knowledge before designing large-scaled and scoped buildings and structures. “Experience is the key element in architecture”, says Eyob.

Eyob loves reading books, listening to the radio and morning news. Eyob reminds the time his eight days building design proposal for the Ministry of foreign affairs in Ethiopia that was kept in the museum and akin to show the Ethio-Israeli relation.

Eyob thanks his mother for all the firm supports and loves she has shown him during his temptation times. He also credits his mentor and workmate architect Mamo and his lawyer father Enkosa. Eyob loved to play arrow games with his brother during his childhood times and he mentioned ‘The champ’, as his favorite childhood movie.

I know Eyob not only as an Ethiopian architect but also as a teacher at the design studio. He really is flexible in a way students feel confident and self-esteemed. He was a good, most communicative, and inspiring teacher. As he said, Eyob critically gives attention to the learning and knowledge grasping processes of architecture than grading, scaling, and judging students. He used to give me and my classmates’ assignments to do in a group and activate the culture of co-working in addition to motivating students through supportive grading. 

Eyob has a strong appetite for handicrafts, and details of diverse structures of Ethiopian origin. He mostly lectured us to use organic materials like wood and brick to emphasize and show originality and the pursuit of mother nature. I hope Eyob will keep doing great things, inspiring students, and being honest to himself and his beloved profession, Architecture.

Nahom Teklu
Author

Nahom is an interdiciplinary Architect and built environment practitioner who strives to use the untapped potential of architecture and experiential design for working on the holistic betterment of livelihoods. He has an initiative which works to build and re-build proactive urban community in Ethiopia.

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