Believe it or not, this is the Dutch Embassy in Ethiopia. It doesn’t look like your average bureaucratic building, but perhaps more government agencies should take cues from not just its unusual aesthetic, but how the architects — Dick van Gameren and Bjarne Mastenbroek — drew influence from two different cultures.
For example, the rough texture of the walls reflects the red earth of Ethiopia and the architecture tips its hat to the Lalibela’s rock-hewn churches. A garden of shallow pools on the roof pays homage to the low-lying topography of the Netherlands.
It also leverages the environment surrounding. Though it’s set in the thick of a big eucalyptus grove, it sits up on a sloped site, so it can harness the sun for heating, cooling, and ventilation. And people who matter in architecture have put their stamp of approval on the embassy — in 2007 it won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, a prominent prize for architecture in Islamic societies. Every aspect of the building’s design comes together to create something modern and surprising, and a place you’d never expect people go to stand in line get their visas renewed. [Textureful, Inhabitat]