Kazakhstan plans giant indoor city
May 30. Telegraph
By Richard Orange
The temperature in Astana can drop to -40F (-40C), but Kazakh residents could soon be able to sun themselves on a beach, go for a gondola ride or use a waterslide thanks to plans for an indoor city capable of housing 20,000 people.
The world’s second coldest capital after Ulaanbaatar, Astana is situated deep in Kazakhstan’s northern steppes, where temperatures drop to -40F in the winter, and howling, icy winds blow through from Siberia.
Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev however plans to combat the temperatures with the project, named Indoor City, which will be about 2km in circumference, twice that of the Millennium Dome.
Aytekin Gultekin, president of Turkish construction firm Sembol, said the company had already shown its concept plans to Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
“It’s a city, an indoor city. Can you imagine in the winter time, in -30? or -40?, you can have such an atmosphere, such a nice climate?” he said.
Mr Gultekin said that Astana and Dubai were similar, in that both are fast-growing cities that can only exist because of climate control. Sembol has also a built a hotel on Dubai’s man-made ‘palm’ peninsular.
“Here it is exactly the same situation as Dubai, but here it is too cold, and there it is too hot,” he said.
The city’s planners have commissioned top architects including Norman Foster, Italy’s Manfredi Nicoletti and Japan’s Kisho Kurokawa, to design a series of plans and buildings.
Sembol is soon to finish work on an indoor park, shopping and entertainment complex called Khan Shatyr: a transparent tent designed by Foster and Partners and based around a cable structure engineered by Britain’s Buro Happold. The President will inaugurate the building on July 6, his birthday.
To build it, Sembol had to hire and train up more than 400 Turkish mountain climbers who could work suspended at 150m in extreme wind and cold.
Khan Shatyr’s upper zone has a tropical climate, with an indoor ‘beach’, water slides, wave machine and tropical garden. Lower zones have a monorail system, a running track, a small amusement park, and a shopping complex. The Indoor City will take the same concept to another scale.
David Nelson, who ran the project for Foster and Partners, said “It’s a very very unique building. We think it’s a very dynamic structure, combining the engineering and the architect, in terms of its structure, it’s tour de force.”
Mr Nazarbayev made Astana the new capital of the Central Asian country in 1997, and has since mounted a campaign to draw the country’s businesses and population from the more temperate city of Almaty more than 1,000km to the south.
Strategically, the decision to move the capital helped secure Kazakhstan’s hold over the north, whose predominantly Russian population had more in common with Siberian towns across the border, than with Almaty in the South.
Mr Nazarbayev also argued that Almaty, which sits on an earthquake zone just 100km from the Chinese border, was too insecure.
Foster and Partners previously designed Astana’s Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, a pyramid which changes colour and houses an opera House in its basement.
Sembol, which seven years ago ran a hotel chain based in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya, has built many of Astana’s landmark buildings. It designed, built and now runs the city’s first five-star hotel, the Rixos, the city’s stadium, congress centre. It is currently working on the university, ice-skating rink, and military academy.