Translating to mean ‘Together’ in Amharic, the abRen iniative is an outward expression of the innate nature present in the collective at RAAS Architects. Driven by its social mission of uplifting communities and its vision of becoming a leading African centered architectural residency and a research space, it aptly self-identifies as a ‘canvas for expression’, looking to dissolve any possible and imagined hindrance to youth and gender empowerment.

abRen is envisioned as a platform for architectural design practice, knowledge elevation, and the exploration of new narratives by the convergence of different voices in a practical and creative learning environment. Through meaningful collaboration, workshops, research, practice and documentation, abRen will strive to accurately capture and represent culture in the ways of life valued in Ethiopia and the rest of Africa.

Through three key pillars of community, empowerment and research, this collective aims at defining and visualizing history.


abRen’s research collective began as a questioning platorm. On the quest to give meaning to our practice, we set upon to form aspace where spectrum of ideas is entertained. As time went by this group of enthusi- asts evolved into the realm of chal- lenging preconceived conventions. This exercise has now led the group to have a deviation platorm from the “safe zone” and where we can experiment and unearth while on the process, develop a lifelong fraternity and personal growth. abRen’s research collective is now on the brink of structuring a think-tank that will become an invaluable asset to the wider goal the abRen family wishes to achieve.


The abRen mentorship program began under the intiative of Rahel Shawl, principal architect at RAAS Architects after receiving mentorship requests from young architecture students and professionals from Ethiopia and the rest of Africa. In addition, other experienced professionals from all walks of life and friends of abRen have been voicing their desire to counsel, guide and support young graduates. A sustained high standard of work has allowed RAAS Architects to forge strong ties with different protagonists of the building process, in its 15+ years of existence. Different stake- holders can be called upon to share insightful information and ideas, offer support and ensure a individual follow-up.


In abRen, through collaboration, research and knowledge exchange women will be empowered to express their voices and knowledge. This is aimed at redefining the role of women in the built environment space while empowering them to be an integral asset to it. Further, abRen will provide a collaborative space for both male and female built environment professionals in order to create a mutual support system crucial to identifying and nurturing a just and equitable network for the future of architecture in Ethiopia.



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