The City of Expo 2017: Astana’s Extraordianry Architecture in Time-lapse Video

Kazakhstan, a huge Asian country about the size of Western Europe, has been part of the Soviet Union until it declared independence in 1991. The country’s flat lands have been the testing grounds for the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons and space travel program. Following its independence, the oil-rich country has managed to economically grow thanks to the oil agreements and industry profits. That was around the time when it was decided that the country’s capital will be moving from Almaty in the South to Astana in the North. In 1997, Astana became the country’s official capital city. Though, the location of the new capital, which is far away from the populous land, may seem questionable, logical strategic and geological reasons were given to such step.

Astana, meaning ‘capital’ in Kazakh, was meant to be a reflection of the country’s growing economy and the, recently, slightly growing population. It was master planned by the renowned Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. The city’s post-modern architecture all clad in white, gold, and reflective glass, resemble a future city from a science fiction movie. Famous architects have been commissioned to design some of the city’s landmarks. One of these architects is Norman Foster who has designed the city’s iconic Bayterek, a 105-meter-high tower that resembles a golden egg on a tree, inspired by a local legend, though it is thought that the idea originally belonged to the Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev. Norman Foster has, also, designed the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, a 60-meter-high pyramid glass, and the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center, a 150-meter-high transparent tent covering numerous entertainment facilities and spaces.

Besides Foster’s architecture, the city is, literally, an open exhibition of post-modern architecture. Among its distinct buildings are the two golden towers known as ‘the beer cans,’ which give the city an almost symmetric look, when observed from the plaza of the Ak Orda presidential palace, centered by the Bayterek at the far end. There are, also, the Triumph of Astana, a 39-floor mixed-use building, modeled after Russia’s Seven Sisters skyscrapers, the Metropolitan Circus which resembles a UFO landed on the grounds of Astana, and the Central Concert Hall designed by Italian architect Manfredi Nicoletti. The list of Astana’s potentially iconic buildings goes on and on.

Kazakhstan Central Concert Hall designed by Italian architect Manfredi Nicoletti

Photography: Peter Gorman

The architecture of the city may seem to be all over the place, but there is the argument that, against how it seems, the entire city is somehow connected by cultural and traditional references. The local architect Serik Rustambekov has explained that to the CNN: “You need to understand the Kazakh background to get a better picture of our world view. We’re a nomadic civilization that developed over thousands of years in the vast expanse of Eurasia. Free space is more impressive to the Kazakh mindset than the type of congestion found in many European centers.”

Well, now you can experience the controversial but interesting architecture of the city through this time-lapse video photographed by Pavel Tenyakov, assisted by Elijah Tenyakov. According to the photographer, this video is a showcase of “the modern design and Asian color of urban architecture” which characterizes the unique style of Astana, “the city of Future”. The video meant to welcome the visitors of Astana which will be hosting the “Future Energy” themed 2017 International Exposition EXPO between June 10 and September 10.

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