By: Tsehaye Zemenfes
First of all, I would like to appreciate Tadesse Yemane and the folks at SUR Construction for taking the initiative to put forth a proposal to develop one of Mekelle’s historical site, Dejazmach Abraha Araya Castle, which was built in 1906. However, I still have reservations regarding how SUR obtained this historical site. For now, I would like to focus on making suggestions for ways to improve the proposed plan to develop the magnificent Abraha Castle.
1. Abraha Castle (Old Building)-While keeping intact the integrity of this historic building, it should be turned into a museum that honors the history and the legacy of Dejazmach Abraha Araya. This way, there won’t be a need to include a new building in the design for the purpose of a museum. The resources can go towards turning the historic building into a modern museum. In addition, the proposal should include a gift shop inside the old building that can house artifacts made by local artist and showcase Tigrean culture and art. I would also include a modern cafe that includes outside sitting options so that patrons can enjoy a fresh Mekelle air with a gorgeous view that overlooks the city. Finally, few rooms in the building can be utilized as a classroom for seminars, talks or field trip-related activities for school-age children.
2. Library-A society that reads flourishes. Including a library in the proposal will help promote a culture of reading, which is much needed in our society.
3. Green space/Garden-There should be a garden that houses local flora. Local trees can be planted to provide shade for those who want to enjoy an outside sitting. Benches also should be built inside the garden.
2. The main entrance-There should be a life-size bronze statue of the Dejazmach Abraha Araya. In doing so will properly honor the founder and builder of the palace.
3. A playground-the proposal needs to include children’s play area where they can enjoy a safe and fun environment. People that stay at the hotel will have children with them and having access to a walking distance playground for their children will make them happy. Local patrons can also bring their children to enjoy the playground. This is also a good way of generating income for the cafe since parents will buy coffee or tea to sip while watching their children enjoy the playground.
4. Sports Center-There should be a walking/bike pathway around the perimeter of the site. This will give alternative and safe exercise option to those patrons who enjoy outdoor activities. This is a good way to promote a healthy lifestyle. In addition, a swimming pool must be included in the plan.
5. Parking- In order to preserve space, parking should be developed underground. The design should take advantage of the fact that the palace sits on a hill and thus it would be ideal to include underground parking.
6. Building Design-It is my wish and hope that when designing the new buildings, the engineers will incorporate local culture and masonry into consideration. There is beauty and modernity in maintaining our culture and historical legacy. Furthermore, the project design should aim to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.
What are your thoughts?