ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s capital is a fascinating city, but its severe winters tend to limit its year-round tourism potential. In an effort to attract visitors in every season, President Nursultan Nazarbayev met Nov. 27 with Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to discuss constructing a downtown dome.
The head of state noted the city is famous not only for its distinctive architecture and comfortable living conditions, but also for its unusual atmosphere. Calatrava thanked him for the chance to visit the country and become acquainted with its urban style.
“More and more people are striving to live in the capital. Its population is approaching one million people. Next year, we will celebrate Astana’s 20th anniversary,” said Nazarbayev.
The project will focus on Water Green Boulevard, the closed avenue under construction in the city centre, where residents will be able to leave their homes without outdoor clothing, walk and chat with neighbours. The domed area could also cover shops and possibly schools and serve as the host spot for cultural events, similar to Toronto and other cities.
Calatrava, a sculptor who has designed a number of futuristic-styled buildings in different countries, expressed his desire to participate in the project. The plan is currently under development.
“We are now waiting for proposals from Calatrava. We understand that he is a well-known architect who is known all over the world. Now, he is developing the concept,” said capital architecture and urban development department head Baktybai Taitaliyev.
He envisions the boulevard as eventually becoming a three-level roadway.
“Our Water Green Boulevard is not finished yet, by the way. It was supposed to be constructed on three levels and the first one is under construction. The third floor will connect the adjacent objects with glass sleeves and corridors,” he added.
The city administration is currently working to reduce administrative barriers for investors, said investment and development department head Alisher Abdikadirov. He noted the Calatrava project will be coordinated with foreign investors.
The architect, whose aesthetics are sometimes defined as bio-tech, designed String Bridge in Jerusalem, Israel and Auditorio de Tenerife in Santa Cruz, Spain. His firm Calatrava Grace, which may participate in the project, has invested nearly $100 million in global real estate projects. To date, the company’s portfolio includes 340 projects in 32 countries with a total area of 1.9 million square metres.