When TED Fellow Xavier Vilalta was commissioned to create a multistory shopping mall in Addis Ababa, he panicked. Other centers represented everything he hated about contemporary architecture: wasteful, glass towers requiring tons of energy whose design had absolutely nothing to do with Africa. In this charming talk, Vilalta shows how he champions an alternative approach: to harness nature, reference design tradition and create beautiful, modern, iconic buildings fit for a community.
Named young architect of the year at the Leaf Awards in 2008, Xavier Vilalta is the founder of XVA, a Barcelona-based design team operating in the fields of architecture, urbanism and research.
The TED Fellow and his team have worked on more than 60 projects, including homes, schools, cultural institutions and commercial buildings everywhere from Africa to the Middle East. Declaring that “we love nature and we care about people,” the team’s design philosophy is to connect the old and the new, co-opting and updating the best thinking of past traditions to create modern buildings that are both deeply respectful of the past and searingly contemporary.
“We aim to find a better connection between nature and people, thinking about our community life being part of the environment, where Architecture grows from the natural climate conditions and traditions.”
Recent projects include the Lideta Mercato shopping mall in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; a boutique hotel in the Spanish Pyrenees; a maternity hospital in Woldia, Ethiopia; and a landmark office building in Astana, Kazakhstan.