out with the old
Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev has spearheaded Astana’s growth, pouring in an
estimated US$15 billion to create a futuristic city filled with novel projects.
Astana’s old Soviet-era buildings are gradually being replaced with massive marble sculptures,
gigantic glass pyramids and other innovative structures like the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center,
already dubbed the “biggest tent in the world.”
As their new capital emerges from the steppes, “many ordinary Kazakhs are very proud of what is
now looking like a very modern capital,” says Saule Mukhametrakhimova, Central Asia program manager and online editor at Institute for War & Peace Reporting, London, England. “Even the Western
diplomatic missions, who were originally worried about the lack of infrastructure and harsh climate,
have now moved there.”
it’s a small world
Much like Astana itself, the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center is a global affair. Renowned
British architect Lord Norman Foster of London-based Foster + Partners developed the
design for the conical structure. And Sembol, a Turkish design, construction and project
management firm, is responsible for the actual building process.
inside the tent
Bent as if under the force of strong winds, the tent-like structure is supported by a 150-
meter (492-foot) -high tripod with a 60-meter (197-foot) -high vertical back leg and two
70-meter (230-foot) splayed front legs.
“The ‘tent’ concept was a response to the inhospitable climate of Astana. Temperatures
can fall as low as - 35 degrees Celsius (- 31 degrees Fahrenheit) in winter and reach
35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in summer,” says Filo Russo, a Foster +
Partners partner closely involved with the project. “The tented form has great resonance
in Kazakh history as a traditional nomadic building form.”