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Community Centre Ropi, Ethiopia

This project is a reaction to deforestation and poverty, a systemic problem with a built solution beyond the reach of the local people. To find a solution, worldly knowledge and understanding of place MUST come together.

by f2a member Austin Hawkins, with Italian architect Lorenzo Fontana. In Ethiopia, Fontana has spent 15 years experimenting with raw masonry and catenary structure as a response to deforestation. this project was inspired by Lolo's work and supported by his generosity. Funded by the Thomas J Watson Foundation.

Work » Aid Work

Community Centre Ropi, EthiopiaUpon arrival in Ropi, we toured the landscape in the company of new friends. "Take a look at this problem. What can come out of this landscape? What architecture has come out of this place? How do you say coffee in Amharic? Take a look at that poster of Britney Spears in the lentil house with these new eyes." Friends became collaborators: Wondimu, Medaso, Endale, Tschumi, Siscay, Terrefe.

by f2a member Austin Hawkins, with Italian architect Lorenzo Fontana. Funded by the Thomas J Watson Foundation.

Work » Aid Work

Community Centre Ropi, Ethiopia

What new structures can come out of the materials of this landscape which use a minimum of wood?

by f2a member Austin Hawkins, with Italian architect Lorenzo Fontana. Funded by the Thomas J Watson Foundation.

Work » Aid Work

Community Centre Ropi, Ethiopia

Can these new methods be trusted?

by f2a member Austin Hawkins, with Italian architect Lorenzo Fontana. Funded by the Thomas J Watson Foundation.

Work » Aid Work

Community Centre Ropi, Ethiopia

Visions for a building are informed by negotiations with local government, budget, structural parameters, inspiration of culture, and by a deepening connection to land and people.

by f2a member Austin Hawkins, with Italian architect Lorenzo Fontana. Funded by the Thomas J Watson Foundation.

Work » Aid Work

Community Centre Ropi, Ethiopia

A lean budget and schedule mean that material must be used sparingly.

by f2a member Austin Hawkins, with Italian architect Lorenzo Fontana. Funded by the Thomas J Watson Foundation.

Work » Aid Work

Community Centre Ropi, Ethiopia

The construction of any significant building, especially one of masonry, can be long and arduous. Here, we built various moulds producing 6 and 12 bricks at a time to expedite production.

by f2a member Austin Hawkins, with Italian architect Lorenzo Fontana. Funded by the Thomas J Watson Foundation.

Work » Aid Work

Community Centre Ropi, Ethiopia

Strenuous labour is interrupted by moments of inspiration, discovery, and excitement.

by f2a member Austin Hawkins, with Italian architect Lorenzo Fontana. Funded by the Thomas J Watson Foundation.

Work » Aid Work

Community Centre Ropi, Ethiopia

Both difficulty and triumph bring the team closer. Eventually, the building becomes the pride of not just a craftsman, but of a community which has contributed, every part of it, to the building.

by f2a member Austin Hawkins, with Italian architect Lorenzo Fontana. Funded by the Thomas J Watson Foundation.

Work » Aid Work

Community Centre Ropi, Ethiopia

Great thanks to Lorenzo Fontana, the construction team, and friends in Ropi that helped us eat well!

by f2a member Austin Hawkins, with Italian architect Lorenzo Fontana. Funded by the Thomas J Watson Foundation.