Best of Milan Design Week 2016

May 01, 2016
The Milan Design Week, the world's most extraordinary design event, has seen its 2016 edition shining much brighter than previous ones thanks to great additions from the art and architecture scene. If the 1,100 design events scheduled across town and the 2,400 exhibitors at the Salone del Mobile weren't enough, there are now some thrilling art spaces, beautiful exhibitions and iconic buildings to visit. 

The Milan Design Week is important in many ways. In an ever-increasing digital world where virtual experiences are replacing physical ones, it serves to remind us why it is essential to keep the latter. Physical experiences, like beauty, have the power to be regenerative. Beauty touches us deeply and because it is a real experience, we can trust it, and through trust, we open up and allow our most interesting aspects to emerge. If we are serious about changing the world into a better place, beauty is key. And Milan its best laboratory.
If I were to pick the most beautiful display during the Milan Design Week, this ought to be Anselm Kiefer's permanent installation at the Pirelli HangarBicocca, a former train factory turned art center in 2004. Kiefer's Seven Heavenly Palaces is a site-specific installation of concrete towers in a huge black-painted hangar and it aims to explore architecture and the divine. Equally impressive is Carsten Höller's temporary exhibition Doubt (picture above). 

The Seven Heavenly Palaces (2004-15), Anselm Kiefer | Pirelli HangarBicocca
Interesting to explore were also the Fondazione Prada by Rem Koolhaas and the Nilufar Depot, an outpost of Nina Yashar's Nilufar gallery in central Milan.

Fondazione Prada
Nilufar Depot

Villa Necchi Campiglio, the setting chosen by Austria Design to host their show, has been a wonderful discovery. Set in a lush garden with swimming pool and a tennis court in central Milan, this beautiful 1935 villa is apparently used for the very first time in a Design Week. 

Villa Necchi Campiglio
Other delightful shows around town include the lighting of the Torre Velasca by Ingo Maurer and the silos at the Viabizzuno showroom in via Solferino.

Glow, Velasca Glow! by Ingo Maurer | Photo by Saverio Lombardi or Tom Vack

Solis Silos by Mario Nanni | Viabizzuno showroom

Inside a silo | Viabizzuno showroom
The Salone del Mobile furniture fair, now in its 55th edition, had some interesting product launches. Vitra presented two new products by Jasper Morrison: the Soft Modular Sofa, whose various foams help the cushions return to the original form after use, and the All Plastic Chair. Maruni Wood Industry also launched a new chair by Jasper Morrison made with maple wood and coloured steel. Beautiful the extra-thin, ultra-long (up to 4 meters) Tense Material table by MDF Italia and the Run table and bench by Emeco. The table comes in different lengths and heights and is suitable for use both indoor and outdoors.

The Nicest Stand Award would have to keep falling to Kartell.

Kartell Stand

Soft Modular Sofa (2016) by Jasper Morrison | Vitra

T-chair (2016) by Jasper Morrison | Maruni Wood Industry

All Plastic Chair (2016) by Jasper Morrison for Vitra (left) | Dream'Air Chair (2015) by Eugeni Quitllet for Kartell
Tense Material Table (2016) by Piergiorgio Cazzaniga | MDF Italia
Run Table (2016) Sam Hecht & Kim Colin | Emeco

There were some extraordinary lightings in the showrooms around town like the ball light pendants by Michael Anastassiades for Herman Miller or his IC Lamp at the DePadova showroom. The Artemide and Danese new lighting collection was also impressive, with Mercedes Benz and BIG architects among the designers.
The Double Dream of Spring by Michael Anastassiades at Herman Miller | Photo by Ben Anders
IC Lamp (2013) by Michael Anastassiades for Floss | DePadova showroom

Bespoke fitting for a spa at Viabizzuno showroom

Artemide and Danese showroom

More Fuori Salone events at the Brera district:

Ron Arad exhibition at Moroso

Iperbolica Wood Armchair (2016) by Alessandro Ciffo for Dilmos
Care (2016) by Mario Trimarchi for VitrA
Moment (2016) by Sertan Özbudun for VitrA
Pipe tap by Marcel Wanders for Boffi
Taps by Fantini | Salvatori showroom   
Lastly, the Salone Satellite, the part of the furniture fair dedicated to young emerging designers. This year's edition run under the theme "New Materials, New Designs" and there were some interesting presentations on April 14th by representatives of Europe's leading material research hubs such as the Material Design Lab in Copenhagen, Materfad Barcelona, Het Nieuwe Institute in Rotterdam, Materio Prag and Materialscout in Munich. Prof. Carole Collet from Central Saint Martins held a great talk about the intersection of biology and design (biomimicry) and about materials that don't exist yet (synthetic biology). Prof. Collet discussed Biolace, a project for growing food and fabrics that was part of the 2013
‘Alive, New Design Frontiers’ exhibition in Paris.

The designs at the Salone Satellite are mostly prototypes. The purpose of the Salone Satellite is to help the designers to launch on the market. If you are a manufacturer, feel free to contact the designers. 

Warm Stool  (ceramic and wood) by Bouillon
The Crane Lamp, expandable walnut, concrete and brass desk lamp by Animaro
 Biolace, future bio-synthetics by Prof. Carole Collet
Mangle, a mangrove-inspired tree pot for urban landscapes by Bright Potato

The Heartbeat Table by SHKinetic
The Fondue Light, a light source that raises and lowers to change intensity by Satsuki Ohata
Earthbulb, atmospheric LED bulbs for underground spaces by Void Setup
Foldis, a lunch box that can be adjusted to different sizes by Alexey Donka

55th Salone del Mobile, Milan 12 -17 April 2016 | #SaloneDelMobile
19th Salone Satellite, Milan 12 -17 April 2016 | #SaloneSatellite
Milano Design Week, 12-17 April 2016 | #FuoriSalone2016 #MDW16 #MDW2016
Fuori Salone: Brera Design District 2016 | #BreraDesignDistrict
Fuori Salone: Tortona Design Week | #TortonaDesignWeek

Pictures by PS (unless otherwise stated) and most Salone Satellite photos by the designers.

Addis Ababa's Ambitious Housing Programme to Half Slum Areas

April 09, 2015

9 April 2015

Ethiopia is urbanizing at the phenomenal annual rate of 4.3%. Cities like Addis are seeing this trend in the shape of large, multi-storey condominium developments primarily for the low- and middle-income sector. Last February, while in Addis for a housing consultation workshop convened by the African Development Bank, I visited with the AfDB delegation Yeka Abadoa new development east of the city centre where 18,000 homes are nearing completion. The 200 hectare site is part of the city’s ambitious Housing Development Programme that includes ten similar sites all under construction. 
Addis Ababa is, with a population of 3.5 million, Ethiopia’s largest city. Located 2,400 meters above sea level, it suffers from a shortage of housing but mainly from poor quality homes whereby “80% of Addis’ inner-city houses need complete replacement because of dilapidation”, says economist Azeb Kelemework. The majority of low-income households live in rented accommodation and almost a million people have registered for the new housing schemes.
The Housing Development Programme is the second phase of the ambitious Integrated Housing Development Programme (IHDP Phase1) that between 2006 and 2010, and with the target of building 400,000 homes, aimed not only to reduce the shortage of houses and create jobs, but also to encourage a saving culture and reduce by 2020 slum areas by half.
The IHDP-Phase1 fell short of its goals and to overcome its limitations, such as the low financial capacity of the target groups, the government has designed the new four-year housing programme around an early saving scheme and income segregated target groups. It has introduced housing schemes with initial down-payment options (10, 20 or 40 per cent of the house value) that can be saved over a specific period of time (3, 7 and 5 years respectively) at the government-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE), who is also the mortgage provider for the remaining 90, 80 and 60 per cent. These 10/90, 20/80 & 40/60 schemes, introduced by the Addis Ababa City Council June 2013, target low to upper-middle income households.
Yeka Abado   
Yeka Abado is a site of the Housing Development Programme that encompasses these schemes. It will soon deliver 18,000 flats of the 10/90, 20/80 and 40/60 schemes together with schools, health centres and green and commercial areas. The development extends over a 200 hectare green-field site 16km east of Meskel Square, Addis city centre. A Light Rail Transit (LRT) is planned to connect the development to the centre.



The Housing Development Programme, managed by the Addis Ababa City Council, provides the land, infrastructure, services and housing in the shape of condominiums, i.e. multi-storey buildings where communal areas are jointly owned. All flats are for sale and beneficiaries qualify for the purchase after opening a savings account at the CBE and registering for the scheme, which isn’t altogether an easy affair because demand vastly exceeds the supply, and it often happens that keen homeowners are left out. The lucky registrants aren’t really much better off since it can take several years for them to get the home they have registered for and during this waiting time other, generally much better, schemes get introduced. But so much to the to-be-improved part. 
The figures on how many condominium units have already been transferred to end-users are difficult to track. According to a recent article published in Capital, 136,000 homes were transferred to beneficiaries in the past 10 years and 75,000 are expected to be handed over in 2015. The Addis Ababa Saving Housing Development Enterprise (AASHDE) is the entity responsible for distributing the houses which are transferred to their owners by way of a computer-based lottery system. There are no developers involved in the scheme, meaning, no uncontrolled profits going to private hands.
The infrastructure is understood to be financed with Addis Ababa City Council’s own resources whereas the condominiums are built with loans provided by the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia. According to the government, the previous housing scheme financing requirements attributed 85% of the cost estimate to building costs and 15% to supporting infrastructure. 
The City Council gets part of its resources through the purchase of bonds issued by the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, we were explained. At the Financing African Cities conference last December in Marrakesh, the Ethiopian Ministry of Urban Development, Housing and Construction explained how Addis gets the additional resources thus managing to be a self-financed city.
In 1975, a year after Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown, the government nationalized all urban land “in an effort to force a fairer distribution of wealth across the country”, says UN Habitat. Some 20 years later the government delegated the responsibility of land development to local government authorities and the city of Addis found itself responsible for the value of its 54,000 hectares. It has since been urbanizing empty land and leasing it, not selling, to development. It has also changed the use of peripheral farm land to urban land to the same purpose. Through these leases plus land taxes, rents and service charges, the City authorities derive substantial revenues. 


10/90 Scheme for Low Income Households
The Yeka Abado site, as said, includes the housing schemes 10/90, 20/80 and 40/60 that never mix in a block; each scheme has its own separate building. 20/80 and 40/60 buildings are set close to each other, 10/90 buildings are farther apart. 
Flat size, qualities and construction costs per square meter vary depending on scheme.
The 10/90 scheme aims to provide homeownership to lower-income households with monthly income under 1,200 Birr (60 USD). This scheme offers only one house type: a studio flat of approximately 31sqm with separate kitchen and bathroom in G+1 and G+2 buildings (ground plus 1 or 2 floors). Each floor has 8 studios and they sell for 40,000 Birr (2,000 USD) each. The construction cost for such a studio is 67,000 Birr (3,300 USD, 106 USD/sqm) and the scheme is cross subsidized using other programmes.



The 10/90 scheme registrants provide 10% of the housing cost, i.e. 4,000 Birr (200 USD), over a saving period of 3 years with 187 Birr (9 USD) monthly payments to a savings account at the CBE. The remaining 90% is financed with a long term bank loan. During the saving period the potential buyers have to keep meeting their rental commitments, which in Addis easily amounts to half their income, and this makes the saving target a bit of a challenge.  
This could explain why the interest in the 10/90 scheme is so low, with only 3% of the registrants choosing it. Another reason could be that for slightly higher payments, registrants can access a one bedroom flat of the next scheme. 
20/80 Scheme
This scheme targets lower-middle and middle-middle income households who provide deposits of 20% of the housing cost, saved over 7 years, while the remaining 80% is provided with a long term bank loan. This scheme is in G+4, G+7 in G+12 buildings (ground + 4, 7 or 12 floors) and offers one, two and three bedroom flats.


The one bedroom flat is 50sqm and costs 127,000 Birr (6,200 USD), the two bedroom is 70sqm and comes at 224,000 Birr (11,000 USD) and the three bed is 85sqm at 304,000 Birr (15,000 USD). 
The monthly savings for each scheme are USD 9.62, 19.70 and 24 respectively. The flats come without wall and floor finishes and internal doors. The lightweight partitions are non-load-bearing and could be removed to join spaces.


The communal areas are nice. The corridors to the flats are bright and airy - since they are open to the outside - and the walls plastered and painted.
This scheme includes commercial spaces up to 10% for cross subsidy.


40/60 Scheme
The 40/60 scheme targets upper-middle income households, who over the course of 5 years are able to save 40% of the housing cost, before getting the 60% loan from the CBE. For this group savings will earn 5.5% interest over the 5 years and the loans will carry 7.5% interest, instead of the 9.5% market rate, to be paid in 17 years.
This scheme welcomes diaspora Ethiopians and encourages those with savings to pay the deposit upfront. 40/60 registrants have preference over other registrants, and more so if they can save in a shorter period than established.
The 40/60 one bedroom flats are 55sqm and cost 163,000 Birr (8,000 USD); the two bedroom units are 75m2 and cost 290,000 Birr (14,200 USD) and the three beds, 100sqm at 386,400 Birr (19,000 USD). The monthly saving payments are USD 51, 77 and 120 respectively.
This scheme has higher qualities than the previous two and includes commercial spaces up to 20% for cross subsidy.
If the financial plan is well thought, the construction efficiency is no less impressive. All the processes involved, from procurement to wastage reduction and design, have been carefully studied by the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture to bring construction costs down to a bare minimum. At the “Housing Market Dynamics” workshop the EIA shared their best practices for Yeka Abado: 


  • Modularity: The design follows materials size (a steel beam is 12m long, hollow concrete blocks 40cm etc.), reducing wastage and decreasing cost. Material wastage in construction is 10%. Modular systems are also a valuable time saver. 
  • Generosity: Savings on material wastage are shared.
  • Good negotiations with contractors. Typically, contractor’s bids add 30-40% contingency to cope with material price fluctuation. The government is the steel and cement supplier for this project and this has reduced costs as much as 50%.
  • Cross-border price checks for imports. Material prices can differ enormously from country to country. Good prices in neighbouring countries are a good saving option providing that transport (and customs) cost remain low.
  • Reduced site transport (and carbon footprint) and encouragement of onsite labour-intensive production technologies that generate jobs, especially for women, youth, and vulnerable people. At Yeka Abado pre-cast beams and hollow concrete blocks are produced on site. 
  • Use of simple construction tools to avoid the hurdles of equipment through customs. No heavy machinery except excavators for the foundations. Concrete mixers and hand tools.
Nearly everything is sourced in Ethiopia. Prior to the scheme there were three cement companies in the country, now there are ten. Steel factories have also been created. Window frames, initially supplied by Chinese contractors for 1,000 USD each, are now supplied by the government who felt they could produce them cheaper and has set up a factory that now provides window frames for other projects in Ethiopia. 
Internal partitions are made with agrostone panels (picture below), a low-cost material made of fillers (agricultural waste like bagasse, which is available from sugar factories), binders (magnesium-based chemicals like magnesium oxychlorine cement - MOC) and reinforcement (fiberglass). Agrostone reduces the cost of partitions by 50%. There are two agrostone factories in Ethiopia.  


As a wrap-up, a curiosity shared by the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture: it seems that people do not accept mud-bricks as “proper” materials and refuse to purchase homes built with them. They’d only accept a mud-brick home, if it were to be given for free.
Opportunities: stone crashers are undersupplied in Ethiopia and Addis’ mayor has said that “the city administration is considering to call in foreign investors to develop condominiums as well”, says Capital.
All together an impressive project with incredibly well coordinated efforts. It remains to be seen if the conditions don't change half way through the process and if the dwellers' expectations are fully met.

#SocialHousing #YekaAbado #AddisAbaba #Ethiopia

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