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Astana: Development of a new Capital City

Tabanlioglu Architects | Foster + Partners

Astana: Development of a new Capital City
By Editorial Staff -

In 1997 the Kazakhstan government decided to shift the capital city from Almaty, near the Chinese border, to the agricultural centre of Akmola, which is more central and closer to the frontier with Russia. The new capital has been called Astana (which actually means “capital” in Kazakh). An international competition was held to help choose the form and master plan for the new city on a 30 years’ basis development and in 1998 Kisho Kurokawa Architect & Associates were proclaimed the winners.
Their proposal is fully in line with the design philosophy Kisho Kurokawa has been pursuing since the Sixties when, along with other young Japanese architects, he founded the “Metabolist Movement”: their underlying idea was that we should move on from a “machine-based era” to a “life-based era” via the concepts of metabolism and symbiosis.
Astana has all the connotations of a “Symbiotic City”, beginning from its relationship to the existing town of Akmola. The latter’s infrastructure serves as a basis for the new development which extends south and eastwards of the river Ishim. A central green belt is to stretch from the railway station to the previous riverside park, thus forming a direct link between old and new townscapes, as well as between urban fabric and natural landscape, a constant interlocutor in man’s bid to build a new life-enhancing environment. Parks, footpaths, rivers, lakes and forests link up into a green network, a set of ecological corridors breeding biodiversity. The riverbanks have been broadened to make them a peaceful recreational feature, while a nearby lake is designed to act as a basin absorbing undue snow melt-off in springtime.
Nature and climate can go to extremes in these parts. The winter temperature may sink to -40° C, with wind speeds up to 7 m/sec. As protection against these last and to regain the typical steppe climate and environment, another life-based decision was to plant a forest south-west of the city. By way of...

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