Urban areas are complex agglomerations of people, infrastructure, buildings and economies. Multiple flows and processes run through cities from migration to trade and metabolic systems. African cities share many similarities with other urban areas in the world, but are also incredibly varied with notable idiosyncrasies. This panel seeks to explore urban areas as a site for innovation in design and city planning, where new collaborations and approaches tailored to different African contexts have resulted in positive and sustained outcomes.


RAAS Architects: Founder, Chief Architect and Manager

Founder and director of one of the leading architecture firms in Ethiopia, Rahel Shawl prides herself on designing quality building projects and being a leader, mentor, and role model for young architects in her country. 

Shawl cofounded ABBA Architects in 1992 and founded RAAS Architects in 2004. Her collaborative local and international projects employ traditional and contemporary approaches that are true to the environment and its users. Rahel received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007 for her work as the local architect on the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Addis Ababa, and she has been honored by the Association of Ethiopian Architects. Her passion to inspire and share knowledge with architecture students and young professionals led to her inclusion in her book “Temsalet: Phenomenal Ethiopian Women,” and she was appointed Honorary Good Will Ambassador for Zer Ethiopia, an NGO promoting education for girls.