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The book presents the survey and the restoration projects of two fabulous imperial compounds in Ethiopia: the castle of Emperor Yohannes IV in Mekele, in the northern region of Tigray, and the Gebbi (palace) of Emperor Menelik II in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia – and, by far, its largest metropolis. The author provides a short historic outline of modern Ethiopia since 1867 and an accurate description of the two complexes and of the cities that host them, the construction of the Gebbi being practically coincident with the foundation of Addis Ababa. This valued architectural heritage is of seminal importance for Ethiopia: every nation needs deep and meaningful cultural roots, and its built heritage works as the nation’s soul, it physically represents its cultural spirit. No country is able to confidently look at the future without respecting its own past. Studying, surveying, restoring, opening these compounds to the public (the one in Mekele has already served as a museum) and transforming them into the active focus of the cultural, political and touristic life of the two cities, showing the lavish collections of imperial memorabilia now hidden into archives and warehouses, will provide the noblest future for these magnificent architectural ensembles, silent witnesses of Ethiopian history.
Livio Sacchi (b. 1955), architect and professor at the Department of Architecture of the University G. d’Annunzio, Chieti–Pescara; president of Europan Italia; counsellor of the OAR, Ordine degli Architetti di Roma.
He is editor for Architecture, Urban Planning and Design for the Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana Treccani.
Among his many books: Tokyo, City and Architecture (Milan: Skira, Paris: Flammarion and New York: Rizzoli-Universe, 2004).
He built the New Korean Evangelical Church in Rome (2007); a housing complex and commercial centre in L’Aquila (2008–12); a school in Limbiate, Monza–Brianza (2010–11). He is currently restoring the Church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria in L’Aquila. He is designing the reconstruction plans for the cities of Castelli, Montebello and Cugnoli, hit by the 2009 earthquake; the master plan for the historic district of the city of Zhong Shan, China, and the master plan for the historic district of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Under construction are new buildings in Addis Ababa and Mekele, Ethiopia.
His projects and essays are published by many Italian and international magazines. He currently lives and works in Rome.