Sunday, August 7, 2011
Commercial Bank of Ethiopia & Its Architect Henri Chomette
The Architecture for the head office of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia is among the best in Addis Ababa. Its grand circular building is reminiscent of a mud tukul, the traditional round houses and of 18th century churches of Ethiopia.
It all started in 1948 when Henri Chomette won an international architectural competition to build Haile Selassie’s Imperial Palace. The competition, organized by the International Association of Architects (UIA) in Paris, gave Chomette the opportunity to access Africa as a major potential in terms of urban planning and architecture. Although he never built the Imperial Palace it gave him an official entrance to the African continent.
In 1949 Henri Chomette moved to Ethiopia and established and managed the Bureaux d’Etudes Henri Chomette. He worked on major architectural buildings and urban planning for the city of Addis Ababa. He was commissioned to do public buildings, theaters & housing projects. As the major urban planner, he also developed urban grids (1953) for the city.
His credit includes the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and the Headquarters for the Organization of African Unity.
Henri Chomette established himself in Africa 10 years before most of the countries became independent. At a time when most African cities merely transplanted European architectural styles, from the classical to modern, Chomette and his colleagues remarkably produced modern architecture based on cultures, tradition and the African environment. In their quest for authenticity through simplicity, all partners of the Bureaux d’Etudes Henri Chomette clearly understood that modern architecture in Africa needed to use technology in order to serve social values and to suit popular needs.
For 50 years Henri Chomette gained a sustained reputation based on his contribution to influence African architects, engineers, craftsmen, and artists in the building of modern African states. Henri Chomett’s originality in reflecting and respecting African cultures, architectural heritage, and environment gained him much respect and his works became timeless. 8/3/11
Posted by The team at Sunday, August 07, 2011