Awash Bank Picks Design Champs for Hawassa Branches

Winning designs for Hawassa (left), Balcha Aba Nefso (centre), and Bulbula (right), branches, were all selected as winners by jury members based on criteria that included urban context, site use, and representation of Awash.
The first private bank to construct its own headquarters, Awash International Bank (AIB), selected three designs for branches to be located in Addis Abeba and Hawassa, Southern Regional State on Thursday, December 8, 2011.
During a ceremony at the Hilton Hotel, the winning designs for the branches to be constructed around Bole Bulbula, Balcha Aba Nefso, and Hawassa, 273km south of the capital, were selected out of 14 entries. A total of six companies took part in the competition.
Gereta Consult, MH Engineering, and Yohannes Abay Plc, competed for all three branch designs, while Zeleke Belay Plc and Age Plc each submitted designs for the Hawassa and Balcha Aba Nefso sites. Studio 7 Architects Plc limited itself to one, competing for the Bole Bulbula design only.
Participating for only one design may have helped Studio 7, as its design for the Bole Bulbula branch, near Kadisco Paint Factory in Nifas Silk Lafto District was selected.  Zeleke Belay Plc was selected for the Balcha Aba Nefso branch, opposite from Lideta Cathedral Church in Lideta District, while MH Engineering was selected for the branch in the Arada area of Hawassa. They all received 50,000 Br awards.
Awash, established in 1994 with 24.2 million Br in paid-up capital, which inaugurated its headquarters a year ago, acquired the 2,900sqm Bulbula plot from an individual, while the 2,800sqm Balcha Aba Nefso site was acquired from the city administration. The 1,850sqm plot in Hawassa was acquired from the regional state.
All of the designs were presented to an independent jury composed of five architects and two structural engineers, on October 10, 2011. The designs were judged based on criteria such urban context, site use, and representation of Awash, according to Tesfamariam Teshome, manager of Bet Architectural Plc and member of the jury.
All of the participants submitted three-dimensional (3D) designs, but their identities were hidden by encoding their names until the awards ceremony, where each received prize money. Awash spent 195,000 Br for it.
“Usually, it is only the top three designers selected that get awards,” Tesfamariam told Fortune. “Awash has done a good job in recognising all of the participants.”
Second to fifth place winners were awarded 20,000 Br, 15,000 Br, 10,000 Br, and 5,000 Br, consecutively.
Each of the winners will complete the working designs of the branches, if negotiations with Awash are successful. This will determine the actual cost of constructing each branch.
“We have to do an assessment study; get the input of structural, electrical, mechanical, and sanitary engineers; and do all the bills of quantity to see how much it will cost,” Zelalem Girma, who was representing Studio 7 architects, established four years ago, and had previously designed KT-12 building, diagonal from Ibex Hotel on Ethio-China Avenue, told Fortune.
His company’s design may cost 131 million Br, he estimates.
Tesfamariam concurs. It takes a long time for a winning design to actually be constructed. Negotiating deals takes an especially long time, and sometimes a contract may not even materialise, according to Tesfamariam, who speaks from experience. Bet Architects has won the design competition for the Ethiopian Airlines headquarters and is yet to sign a deal.
For Zeleke, founder of his namesake company, which has been in operation since 1996, winning the design for the branch located near the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building, & Construction (EIABC), where he went to school was exciting.
“We had to come up with a design that would look attractive from all sides,” he told Fortune.
Zeleke Belay Plc also placed third for the Hawassa location. For Getahun Lemma, head of the architectural department at MH Engineering, which placed first for this design, consideration of the plot was also a factor.
“The plot is short in length but greater in depth, so we came up with an L-shaped design that would present a great view when seen from the side,” he explained during his speech at the ceremony.
The design was applauded for incorporating the concept of the outdoor lifestyle of Hawassa in the building model.
The three designs, when constructed, will be part of the growing number of buildings that Awash owns. The bank, whose paid-up capital has reached 885 million Br with 2,977 shareholders, has 75 branches countrywide.

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