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BGI Castel Headquarters

A Symbol of Urban Renewal

Westway Architects

BGI Castel Headquarters
By Francesco Pagliari -

The project to build the headquarters of beer manufacturer BGI Castel in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, presented a dual challenge. On the one hand, the building had to project the image of a successful company that has helped drive the economic development of the country. On the other, the new architecture had to relate effectively with its context and provide an innovative thrust to urban renewal. Founded almost a century ago, BGI is an international brewery with several facilities and a well-known brand name throughout Ethiopia. The company has also recently entered the wine business.

After changes to its ownership structure in the wake of the very troubled history of this African country over the 20th Century, it is now creating a new headquarters, which must embody several symbolic features. It must be contemporary but at the same time refer to its deep rooted tradition, be a striking piece of architecture but also represent the country’s economic development. Its  symbolic importance must also spill over to its surrounds, triggering urban renewal despite a site that not only abuts onto a busy main road (running along the south perimeter) but also faces an overhead city railway station on an imposingly long viaduct. In addition, it sits alongside the company’s production plant, an intricate jumble of tanks, pipelines and silos directly in front of the north side of the new headquarters and clearly visible from inside.

Given the shape of the plot, the architects opted for a tall,
eight-story edifice running along the south perimeter next to the busy road. Although a multifunctional building, most of the floor space will be given over to offices for administrative, commercial and top management functions. There will also be retail space, and the upper two levels will be allocated to a series of different-sized high-end...

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