Ethiopian Church in Stockholm Shortlisted for World Architecture Festival

Ethiopian Church in Stockholm Shortlisted for World Architecture Festival

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Stockholm, designed by Belatchew Arkitekter, has been shortlisted for this year’s World Architecture Festival Awards in the Civic – Future Projects category.

The 10th edition of the World Architecture Festival will be held in Berlin, Germany, 15-17 November 2017. To celebrate reaching this milestone, World Architecture Festival organisers has launched the WAF Manifesto – identifying key challenges which architects will need to address over the next ten years, including climate, energy and carbon; water; ageing and health; re-use; smart city technology; building technology; cultural identity; ethics and values; power and justice; and virtual worlds.

– The festival is truly growing to be a major international event in the world of architecture and the WAF Manifesto is both challenging and inspiring, says Rahel Belatchew, Principal Architect and CEO, Belatchew Arkitekter.

– It is therefore satisfying that our design for an Ethiopian church in Stockholm has been shortlisted for an award – especially so when there apparently was a record number of entries this year, concludes Rahel Belatchew.


This project is about creating a place for a community and bringing together an ancient tradition with modern needs in another part of the world.

The building is composed of coloured concrete that takes up the colour of the red African soil and the weight and materiality from the unique rock hewn churches of Lalibela in northern Ethiopia. The feeling of weight being conveyed by the outwardly inclined walls. On the inside, the Scandinavian tradition of wood is visible through large timber frames and panels.

The main feature of the church is its large, round church hall with a central dome. The deliberately introvert volume takes in daylight from above avoiding openings in the façade. The lack of openings in the facade enables the visitor to start an inner spiritual journey without distraction from the residential neighbourhood. The windowless facades also enhance the sculptural feature of the building and emphasizes the rough materiality of the red concrete. The dome is made of a copper like metal amidst green roofs.

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Belatchew Arkitekter is an architectural firm working within a wide range of projects, from urban planning and housing to offices and retail. The work of the office is idea driven with an aim to find unexpected solutions that enhance the potential of a site and add value to real estate.

Rahel Belatchew, MSA / SAR, DESA, Chief architect and founder of Belatchew Arkitekter, received her master’s degree in architecture from the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris 1996 and has worked as an architect in Paris, Luxemburg, Tokyo and Stockholm. Rahel also runs the experimental studio Belatchew Labs in order to find solutions to the challenges of the contemporary city through method development, digitization and sustainable architecture. Rahel Belatchew is also engaged in real estate development for the realization of projects with high architectural qualities.

Rahel Belatchew has been appointed Architect of the Year and Belatchew Arkitekter and Belatchew Labs have received several awards in recent years, including Architectural Review MIPIM Future Project Award, Smart Living Challenge and the Swedish national design award Design S.
CV Rahel Belatchew:
Photo Rahel Belatchew:


Rahel Belatchew, Principal architect, founder and CEO, phone +46 70 174 94 32,, Twitter and Instagram: @rahelbelatchew
David Lerdell, External Relations & Communications, phone +46 73 506 49 79,
Web:, Twitter and Instagram: @belatchew

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“Bästa Belatchew”


Tidskriften Form har publicerat ett längre porträtt av Rahel Belatchew, signerat Nils Forsberg och Daniel Lundkvist. Finns att läsa i butik eller hos exempevis Readly.

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Cirkus Lorensberg


Residential housing in central Gothenburg. The proposed building incorporates the strong history of the location in its design and introduces a new typology to the landscape with a solid front towards the street and an open broken volyme towards the park with generous balconies and roof terraces.


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First prize in an invited competition for housing in Stockholm. The building is composed of an overall homogenous volyme where variation is created in the shifting colors and details of the facade. Form and materials aim at a contemporary interpretation of the traditional stone town of Stockholm, all the while communicating with the adjacent buildings and their more industrial character.

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Spotlight on Rahel Belatchew

Rahel Belatchew portrayed in Spotlight, a program by Kerstin Berggren, Swedish Public Radio.

Please note that the broadcast is in Swedish.

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BuzzBuilding Taipei

Buzzbuilding Taipei Buzzbuilding Taipei

With the goal of showing how Taipei, Taiwan, could become self- sufficient in protein, Belatchew Arkitekter suggests the construction of an insect farm in the Ren-A Circle roundabout – the BuzzBuilding Taipei.


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Stora Sköndal


Invited competition, urban planning, Stora Sköndal, Stockholm, Sweden

Development of the area Stora Sköndal, Stockholm, Sweden. As a first step the area has been studied in preparation for a future  transformation into a new city district. The street structure has been made more urban and a number of urban planning principles have been developed.

There is a strong potential for developing Stora Sköndal into a more densely built and vibrant city district with its proper identity. In order to obtain this a mixed community where families, young adults as well as seniors feel at home is important. In order to give life to a city district there needs to be ongoing activities and people in movement during the day as well as the night. This can be obtained through a mix of housing and business in the different blocks. Elements of art and sports create identity and a sense of belonging all the while reinforcing social bonds.

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Rosendal 2


Land allocation competition, Uppsala, Sweden

The proposition consists of four buildings strategically placed to create thought through fractured angles and sloping roofs in order to create a sense of small scale rather than that of a large appartment building complexe. The buildings are given their own identities with varied window compositions and balconies which further accentuates this feeling. Furthermore every entrance to the courtyard is given its proper identity with different materials and colors as well as activities. All buildings have entrances both from the adjacent streets and from the courtyard in the middle, creating contact between the street and the courtyard. The area will house approximately 100 apartments out of which a large proportion are smaller apartments. The total floor area is approximately 5500 m².






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Rahel Belatchew on Power List


Rahel Belatchew Lerdell has been included on a “power list” compiled by the magazine Rum.

“One of the strongest voices on the architectural scene in Sweden today. She sits in numerous influential juries, runs her own construction company and innovative future lab. We can not get enough of Rahel Belatchew, but when we put her on the Power List she has to leave the room, because she also a member of the Room of the Year jury.”

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Greenhouse and housing

Invited competition for a building combining greenhouse and housing in Norrköping, Sweden.

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Ethiopian Orthodox Church

Exteriör från bostadshus

Belatchew Etio Kyrka Entrévy

New Church for the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo congregation, in Hagsätra, Stockholm, Sweden.

The building was originally a grocery store, but has throughout the past 30 years served as a temporary church for the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The congregation is growing and is today the seat of the church’s Swedish archdiocese, and thereby needed a bigger church.

The original building was rectangular with the church hall in one end. With the extension, the church hall is moved into a new circular building placed at one end of the building. The circular form and the dome draws inspiration from Ethiopian churches that are often hexagonal, octagonal or circular buildings with domes. In line with tradition the altar is placed in the east.

The building is composed of colored concrete that takes up the color and material from the unique rock churches of Lalibela in northern Ethiopia.  The feeling of weight is conveyed by the outwardly inclined walls.

Furthermore, the building is composed of one characterized volume, the church hall, which is complemented by the otherwise low-key building. From the adjacent road as well as from existing residential buildings you can see the church from above. The dome is made of copper like metal and around the dome light is let in through a glass ceiling.

The existing church hall is remade into a community room and is given a higher ceiling with roof lanterns in order to let more light in.  In the existing building an activity room is also created for social activities.

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Belatchew Arkitekter_Twist_Night view

Belatchew Arkitekter_Twist_Day view

Belatchew Arkitekter_Twist_Interior view

Belatchew Arkitekter Twist Collage Bild 02

Twist is the winning proposal in an invited architectural competition for the construction of a symbolic building in Hagastaden in Stockholm. The building will serve as a meeting place for those who live in, work in, and visit the area, and will accommodate a restaurant and a rooftop terrace.

The building is located at the intersection of the inner city area Vasastaden, the emerging Hagastaden (the Haga city) and the New Karolinska hospital. The building is approximately 700 square meters and will be partly built on two levels.

The building has been named the “Twist” which alludes to its twisted shape, but also on the program that combines work with pleasure, the individual with the collective. The lightweight structure is in wood, turning smoothly from one floor to the other, through a wide and inviting multi-functional staircase connecting the main floor with the upper floor and roof terrace in a seamless way. The border between the first and second floor is blurred, and the upper floor becomes easily accessed and attractive. With ongoing activities both day and night, the Twist becomes a vibrant place that lights up even when the surrounding offices have closed for the day. Aesthetically the starting point has been the building rights that have been given a “twist”, which can also be connected to the life science theme of the area and the name of the quarter, “Genen” (the gene), as the spiral form of the building also alludes to the DNA-helix.

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Fisksätra - 3d-vy

Belatchew Arkitekter was invited to develop a proposal for new buildings with 320 apartments complementing existing apartment blocks in Fisksätra outside of Stockholm, Sweden. The analysis of the place showed a need to create better connections within the area and to add complementary buildings with diversity in volumes, heights and colors.

The challenge was to create buildings that could handle the noise from the nearby train tracks and the traffic all the while complementing the area with new urban qualities without removing the currently appreciated aspects of the area.  An important component was also to increase the social contact within the area by capitalizing on the flow of people between the train station and the city center, and to create continuity between the existing and the new courtyards.

The new buildings have a smaller and broken scale, between 3 and 8 floors high, as a complement to the existing large-scale structure.

A new dynamic streetscape towards Fisksätravägen is created where both the height of building as well as the facades’ position varies. The houses have been given a mild color palette where the base colors are white, sand and dark grey complemented by green, blue and yellow. One house deviates from this palette by being the only red and also slightly higher house indicating the placement of the center. The red color also connects to the existing buildings color palette.

The new courtyards have been connected to the existing elevated yards in a natural way that promotes the flow of people and connects the old with the new around a common yard. In favor of green areas we have worked to reduce the paved surfaces around the houses and activate the yards. The terraces and soft ramps create a natural transition between the new and existing yards. By linking existing yards in this way and by giving them a stronger character meeting places and new flows to the streets are created, that in turn provide the preconditions for a better communication between the buildings and the nearby water.

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Framework Agreement with Familjebostäder



Belatchew Arkitekter AB has signed a framework agreement with Familjebostäder, regarding architectural services. Familjebostäder is one of Swedish largest public housing companies.

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Belatchew Arkitekter on the Sustainable Brand Index

Belatchew Arkitekter på topplistor över mest hållbara opinionsbildare och varumärken Belatchew Arkitekter på topplistor över mest hållbara opinionsbildare och varumärken

Belatchew Arkitekter’s trademark and sustainability activities ranked on the Sustainable Brand Index™.

Sustainable Brand Index™ is Scandinavia’s largest brand study focusing on sustainability. Based on 30 000 consumer interviews, the study maps out and analyzes sustainability and brands from the consumer and business perspectives.

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