Since its foundation, Addis Ababa has seen four major stages
in development, each with a unique urban settlement pattern.
The first period is the time between the founding of the city to the Italian occupation during WWII. The second period was during the Italian occupation, (1936-1941) when marginal
improvements to infrastructure were made with the construction of few modern buildings. The third period followed the liberation and extended in to the 1960s. During this period, Addis Ababa saw significant infrastructure development, including a number of modern buildings.
What has been going on recently and what has been changing the city’s image appears to be the fourth stage, now known as contemporary architecture
Historically, city planners have used a heavy hand to make sweeping decisions for “the greater good” that give little to no consideration to the lives of the residents they will directly and immediately effect. For example, American planners of the 1950’s carved away whole neighborhoods to make way for highways that divide once-whole communities while “red-lining” other portions of U.S. cities to passively enforce racial and economic separations; likewise, the infamous “Hassmann Plan” to modernize medieval Paris gouged straight-lined boulevards into the city during the mid 19th century. Our work in disaster response (which is just one type of city-scale planning) has evolved in many ways since we began this type of work, following the Great Mississippi Flood in 1993. Of course, the tools and technology have improved over nearly two decades, but the most important advances are in the community process.
Perhaps the first development in the city was a system of roads that were built in a circular fashion about the city center.This radial network, interconnected by roundabouts and
winding pathways, defines the physiognomy of the city.