Date of Award

Spring 6-3-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (MArch)



First Advisor

Jess Myers

Second Advisor

Christopher Roberts


The concept of myth-making in architecture involves the use of narratives, symbolism, and cultural references to shape the meaning and experience of built spaces. These myths hold significance beyond the distinction between fiction and reality; they exist to provide explanations and hold great influence over our lives. Understanding a place and its identity requires an exploration of the narratives and beliefs associated with it, as they directly shape the physical environment. By embracing and incorporating these mythologies, designers and planners can create meaningful and authentic spaces that resonate deeply with people.

Communities, being socially constructed, rely on unifying narratives that define their unique characteristics and differentiate them from others. These narratives offer explanations and guidance to individuals and their leaders, shaping their sense of belonging and collective identity.

In the context of Addis Ababa, narratives and storytelling play a vital role in shaping the city's structure and fostering a sense of community. The city's complex multi-ethnic history gives rise to conflicting narratives, leading to a dynamic interplay where some narratives gain prominence while others are overlooked. Addis Ababa's mythologies draw from elements such as divine right theories, historical revisionism, and nationalism.

The establishment of the Monarchy in Addis Ababa centers around the narrative of divine rights, as Ethiopian rulers sought to legitimize their rule through religious texts and edicts from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. These narratives were reinforced by religious imagery and practices. The period of Italian occupation introduced new narratives that have been subject to historical revisionism by both the people and the government. Additionally, the narrative of nationalism has had a significant impact on shaping Addis Ababa's present-day identity.

This thesis critically examines the role of the myth in historical and mythical narratives in shaping diverse identities and the formation of Addis Ababa. It explores different time periods, spanning from the monarchy era to the Italian occupation, and delves into how these narratives have influenced the contemporary landscape. By understanding the power of narratives, we gain insights into the multifaceted nature of Addis Ababa's identity and the ways in which myth-making processes contribute to its formation.



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