The Lideta Mercato was intended to be a shopping mall just like many others in the city of Addis Ababa. A rigorous analysis has identified the main issues of the existing malls in the city, which are commonly built using glazing structures. As a result, the buildings suffer uncomfortable thermal conditions and over-illumination in the interiors. The observation of the Old Mercato, the largest open air market in Africa, was an inspiration to redefine the program of the building, conceiving a multistory contemporary market instead of a conventional shopping mall based on large shops.

Project Name: Lideta Mercato
Studio Name: Vilalta Studio

Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Client: Flintstone Engineering
Surface: 14.200 m2
Time: 2010-2016
Data: Restricted competition: 1st Prize
Architects: Vilalta Studio
Director: Xavier Vilalta
Project Leader: Maria Rosaria Favoino
Project Team: Joao Medeiros, Miguel Sánchez Enkerlin, Reema Al-Ajlan, Daniel Vaczi
Structural: K2N Engineering
Mechanical & Sanitary : Abiy Aberra
Photos: Gonzalo Guajardo

Lideta Mercato by Vilalta Studio - Sheet1
©Gonzalo Guajardo

The carved volume connects two parallel streets that define the plot of the project. This diagonal connection creates a shortcut for pedestrians and concentrates all the entrances of the building. This path extends to the inclined atrium in the middle of the building, where all floors are connected. Around this void, a different layout of small shops is placed in each floor.

Lideta Mercato by Vilalta Studio - Sheet4
©Gonzalo Guajardo

The skin of the building was designed considering the local climate conditions and traditions. The façade acts as a protection from the sun, controlling the natural light and ventilation in the interior spaces. It was built using a lightweight concrete prefab system, and the shapes come from a traditional Ethiopian fractal pattern commonly found in the local fabrics. The passive ventilation system and controlled natural lightening created between the building´s skin and the interior atrium enables the interior space to have an open-air feeling and balanced illumination.

Lideta Mercato by Vilalta Studio - Sheet7
©Gonzalo Guajardo

Constantly ceased power supply is one of the main obstacles Ethiopia is facing. This occurring problem was turned into an opportunity by placing circular shaped photovoltaic umbrellas in the rooftop that create nice shaded entertainment areas.

Lideta Mercato by Vilalta Studio - Sheet8
©Gonzalo Guajardo

The roof also functions as a rainwater collection system by draining and storing the rainwater in the basement tanks, which later goes through a filtration process to be reused for building´s toilets and taps.

Vilalta Studio

Vilalta Studio operates in the fields of architecture, urbanism and design.

Declaring that “we love nature and we care about people”, our design philosophy is to connect the old and the new, co-opting and updating the best thinking of past traditions to create modern buildings that are both deeply respectful of the past and searingly contemporary.

We have worked on more than 80 projects, including homes, schools, cultural institutions and commercial buildings in 15 different countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and America.

A variety of institutions worldwide have recognised our innovation in the architectural field. Among these awards there are the Young Architect of the Year at the LEAF Awards 2008, in 2009 and 2010, the SAIE Selection at Energy Exhibition in Bologna, Italy. In 2013, we received an international cooperation award from the Association of Architects of Catalonia and an Honorable Mention for the Modern Atlanta Prize. In 2017 the Lideta Mercato was honoured by the UNESCO Prix Versailles as the best shopping mall worldwide.

Xavier Vilalta is the founder and director of the studio. He is a distinguished international architect specialised in sustainability. His work combines innovative technology with local resources and culture to create contemporary designs suitable for their environment.

He was a former associate professor at the Barcelona Tech-UPC School of Architecture, where he taught design studies and mentored diploma projects. He is a regular keynote speaker at events and conferences. Among others he has delivered talks at TED Global, Fundaçao Galouste Gulbenkian in Portugal, Kazakhstan Commercial Real Estate Week, Brunei World Architecture Day, Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, and South Africa Smart Build Conference.


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