Ethiopian National Stadium + Sports Village - LAVA+JDAW

What is possibly the original form of the stadium- before there were modern or even ancient building techniques- is the sunken arena with surrounding grandstands made from excavated material. The Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA) has collaborated with Designsport and local Ethiopian firm JDAW, to design the winning entry in a competition set out by the Ethiopian Federal Sport Commission, for a new national stadium + sports village in Addis Ababa, using just such a system at its core.


Daniel Assefa, the director of JDAW states

“‘The design references Ethiopia’s world-famous excavated architecture -centuries-old rock churches, dwellings and cisterns. We see the
 sports city as a natural extension to this heritage, one that will draw many more visitors to our beautiful country.'”

The man-made crater of the stadium remodels rather than replaces the existing terrain, creating efficient spaces which are incorporated into the landscape with few left-overs. The earthen construction also minimizes building costs as well as optimizing the structures environmental and thermal performance.


The iconic stadium is wrapped in a façade which is highly referential to its place. ‘Coffee bean’ scales wrap the form in a method which alludes to the Massob, an Ethiopian communal serving basket made from woven grass. Above this, is a lightweight tensile membrane roof, which the architects anticipate will appear on the horizon as a cloud.


The complex will be centered around a main plaza with elements radiating outwards. The many programs of the master plan will include an IOC-standard Stadium for FIFA World matches, athletics events, concerts, religious and national festivals; and a sports village comprising indoor and outdoor aquatic centres, outdoor pitches, sports halls and arenas, dormitories and the the Sport Commission headquarters for the Federal Sport Commission. Giant solar-powered umbrellas will provide shade and lighting around the plan. Fissures set into the ground surface act as pedestrian activated light and water features and will provide way-finding for visitors and create animated/interactive works of art.

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