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Thread: Foster's Pyramid of Peace in Kazakhstan

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    Default Foster's Pyramid of Peace in Kazakhstan

    The pyramid of peace: Norman Foster assumes the monumental mantle of Boullée. In Kazakhstan.

    Text © Hugh Pearman. Cutaway graphic © Julian Osbaldstone/Sunday Times graphics. Cross-section and site model © Foster and Partners. Boullée drawing courtesy of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

    A much expanded version of the news story first published exclusively in The Sunday Times, London, February 20 2005.

    It will be one of the modern wonders of the world. A great pyramid, set in a brand-new capital city on the central Asian steppes. A pyramid that is to be a global centre for religious understanding, a symbol of world peace. It has more space inside than London's St. Paul's Cathedral, or Istanbul's Hagia Sophia. Sounds fanciful? They start building it next month - March 2005. It will open in June 2006. It is designed by Britain's Norman Foster.



    Lord Foster, 69, has designed some audacious buildings in his time, from the much-loved "Gherkin" tower in London to Beijing's new airport - right now the world's biggest construction site. He has designed - but never built - the world's tallest towers. He even survived London's "wobbly bridge" embarrassment. But nothing he has done to date compares with this latest job. Because nobody asks for buildings like this. Unless you happen to be President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan.

    With a massive oil, gas and mineral industry behind him, investors falling over themselves to catch his eye, and not much by way of political opposition, Nazarbayev can build whatever he wants in his showpiece new capital of Astana, being built according to a monumentally axial 1998 Kisho Kurokawa masterplan. And what Nazarbayev wants is religious and ethnic reconciliation.

    He also wants an opera house to rival Glyndebourne or Covent Garden, a national museum of culture, a new "university of civilisation", and a centre for Kazakhstan's ethnic and geographical groups. All these will be slotted into Foster's pyramid, which is 203 feet tall and 203 feet square at the base (62m by 62m). It is raised higher by being set on a broad podium (315 feet square or 96 by 96 metres) roughly 50 feet high surrounded by an earth berm. This podium contains the opera house.



    So this is not just a talking-shop for clerics. Although with a population split 50:50 between Russian Orthodox and Muslim, and with extremism on the rise all round, you can see why it's on the president's mind. He hosted the first such congress of religious leaders in September 2003, and wants to make it a triennial event.

    Made of a diamond-pattern latticework of tubular steel clad in pale silver-grey stone, the pyramid will climax in a great coloured apex of abstract modern stained glass, to be designed by British artist Brian Clarke - a long-time friend and collaborator of Foster's. Bathed in the golden and pale blue glow of the glass (colours taken from the Kazakhstan flag), 200 delegates from the world's main religions will meet every three years in a circular chamber - based on the United Nations Security Council in New York. The chamber is perched high beneath the point of the pyramid on four huge struts intended, says Foster, to "symbolise the hands of peace". A research centre into the world's religions, complete with a large library, occupies the floor below.

    For the general public, things are no less spectacular. The pyramid is raised on a low artificial hill - making it even taller - inside which is the 1500-seat opera house. The auditorium has a circular glass oculus ceiling set into the floor of the pyramid's gargantuan central atrium. From the floor of the sunken opera house to the peak of the pyramid is nearly 250 feet. Lifts rising up the inwardly-leaning walls - rather like the legs of the Eiffel Tower - carry you up to a middle level.

    At this point more drama begins as you enter what Foster's colleagues calls "the hanging gardens of Astana". The atrium walls suddenly flare outwards, vegetation cascades round on all sides from planters set into the walls. To get up to the unearthly light pouring down from the top of the pyramid, you must walk up zig-zag ramps through these airborne gardens as if ascending to heaven. Blimey.

    Even Foster - not a demonstrative man - can hardly believe he has this job. "A few months ago, this didn't exist," he says as we stand in his Battersea studio in front of a six-foot tall working model of the pyramid. "It's the fastest thing that we've ever done. They've ordered the steel and it starts to be built next month. The scale of what is happening in Astana is incredible."

    So rapid has it been that Foster has yet to meet the 64-year old President Nazarbayev, a former steel worker who has led the country since independence in 1991. When the job first arrived, says Foster, he was away in France, frantically faxing design ideas back to the office. Foster's fellow-directors Nigel Dancey and David Nelson have however presented the designs in Nazarbeyev's brand-new presidential palace, which the pyramid will face across the River Ishim on a new three-mile-long boulevard.



    The president works surrounded by models of the new Astana, his personal Brasilia or Canberra. He is pouring billions of dollars into it - despite the reported reluctance of his ministers, and international airlines, to make the move there from the old capital of Almaty near the Chinese border. "At the moment it's fairly bleak and very new," says Dancey. "It's growing so quickly that it hasn't really found its own identity yet. I've never seen anything like it."

    The climate is a problem. Temperatures in Astana range from minus 40 Celsius in winter to plus 40 Celsius in the heat of summer. It's not just a matter of insulating the building - it's coping with the yearly expansion and contraction of the huge steel and stone structure. It is being made in prefabricated sections during the winter, to be assembled in summer. Self-supporting as it rises, it will need no temporary props. Its cost is guarded as a state secret. Were it built in the UK, it would run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

    The project is being managed by a Turkish construction company, Sembol Construction, with a Turkish associate architect, Tabanlioglu Architecture and Consulting. Both are in Istanbul, so most design meetings take place there. Structural engineers are Buro Happold of London and Arce of Istanbul.

    Foster chose the pyramid shape because it is has no negative religious connotations. He has designed several concert halls, art galleries and museums, but says this has a greater importance. "It is primarily a cultural centre - but because it will host a peace congress of 18 religions, it becomes something else. It is about religion, peace and co-existence," he says. "It is dedicated to the renunciation of violence and the promotion of faith and human equality."



    The pyramid - and the rendering of Foster's cross-section shown here - deliberately echoes some of the grand Utopian projects of 18th century French architects Etienne-Louis Boullée and Claude-Nicholas Ledoux shortly before the French Revolution. Boullée's pyramidal cenotaphs are the clear inspiration here. Some of these were square, several were cones, with circular plans. Foster's, with its square plan and circular internal elements, thus combines two of Boullée's geometric preoccupations.

    Such visionary schemes of the Enlightenment were of course never built. Which might explain why President Nazarbayev is in such a tearing hurry. With his total grip on power he is not expected to lose the next election, due the year the "Palace of Peace" is finished - 2006. Whatever the outcome, he will have his monument. So will Foster. And so, extraordinarily, will Boullée.

    Foster website: www.fosterandpartners.com
    Boullée resource, Bibliothèque Nationale de France: http://expositions.bnf.fr/boullee

    www.hughpearman.com

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    Great for tourism

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kolbster
    Great for tourism
    In one of the most repressive regimes on earth.

    http://www.freedomhouse.org/research...kazakhstan.htm

  4. #4

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    True, Kazahkstan isn't the most...liberal, but maybe it is a sign of change??? Or maybe its an effort to keep up with all the development thats happening

  5. #5

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    Hey, i googled Kazakhstan and this is what i came up with


    The dramatic change of life in Kazakhstan becomes apparent in the former capital Almaty, which we had visited last time in 1993. Now, the streets are lighted and roads paved, advertisements in all colors are in sharp contrast to the gray official color of party buildings. Cafes, restaurants and casinos have sprung up everywhere filled mostly with young rich people. The free market has created opportunities for them, which they have happily embraced. Nearby, old women beg for alms and "pensioners" search dustbins for eatables. Their monthly pension is not even enough to order a single meal in the restaurant. On pager, Kazakhstan is one of the richest countries in the world. Estimated oil reserves are more than 10 millions barrels per head. Owing to the badly organized economy, the population hardly ever sees any part of this fortune. The average monthly income is around 100 USD per family, comparable to the neighboring newly formed independent states. The quality of meals in these newly opened cafes and restaurants is astonishingly good. Also, Almaty boosts several hundred clubs, discos and the like for nightly excursions. We visit the "Neutralnaya Zona", a popular club in the outskirts of Almaty, where the entry is invisible from the outskirts. People are dancing and drinking wildly until early in the morning"....

    studyrussian.com/.../ silkroad/Kazakhstan.htm

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  7. #7

    Default What th...

    If this pyramid idea is for real, why is not a single reference to it in the Foster & Partners web site?

    Just call me skeptical...

  8. #8
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Default Lord Foster in Kazakhstan

    Not the name of a new sitcom -- and not really a new story ...

    But a chronicle of a recent Foster + Partners' project in Astana, the new capital of Kazakhstan, that was inaugurated in September 2006 ...





    Eighth Wonder of the World?

    The inauguration this September of the new, 62-meter-tall Palace of Peace and Accord, also known as the Peace Pyramid, will mark another milestone in Astana’s evolution and may well become the Eighth Wonder of the World.

    Built to house the Assembly of Nations of Kazakhstan, a university, a museum, a library and a winter garden, the pyramid was designed by British architect Sir Norman Foster, who is famous for his futuristic glass roof on the German Parliament (Reichstag). The Palace of Peace and Accord will be ready for the beginning of the Second Congress of World and Traditional Religions.


    © Foster and Partners

    Posted by Ben | in Oddities | on October 26th, 2005

    This story appeared already some time ago in British papers, but I thought it would be interesting:

    British star architect Norman Foster, who designed quite a handful of the world’s most famous landmarks, will be applying his skills in Kazakhstan, according to the PR Newswire:
    Called the Palace of Peace and Accord, architect Norman Foster’s pyramidal masterpiece will grace the urban landscape of Kazakhstan’s capital city, Astana as a global centre for religious understanding, renunciation of violence and the promotion of faith and human equality.
    The Palace of Peace and Accord - that sounds rather reminiscent of this man (who commissioned the ‘Arch of Neutrality‘).


    © Foster and Partners

    A little search on Foster’s website brings us to this staggering draft:
    In addition to representing all the world’s religious faiths, the Palace houses a 1,500- seat opera house, a university of civilisation, and a national centre for Kazakhstan’s various ethnic and geographical groups. This programmatic diversity is unified within the pure form of a pyramid, 62 metres high with a 62 x 62-metre base. Clad in stone, with glazed inserts that allude to the various internal functions, the pyramid has an apex of stained glass by the artist Brian Clarke.

    I guess this building will cost some $??? million.
    Its cost is guarded as a state secret. Were it built in the UK, it would run into hundreds of millions of pounds.
    What a sad waste of money.


    There is much more here.
    From the floor of the sunken opera house to the peak of the pyramid is nearly 250 feet. Lifts rising up the inwardly-leaning walls - rather like the legs of the Eiffel Tower - carry you up to a middle level.
    At this point more drama begins as you enter what Foster’s colleagues calls “the hanging gardens of Astana”. The atrium walls suddenly flare outwards, vegetation cascades round on all sides from planters set into the walls. To get up to the unearthly light pouring down from the top of the pyramid, you must walk up zig-zag ramps through these airborne gardens as if ascending to heaven. Blimey.

    © Julian Osbaldstone/Sunday Times graphics

    Response to ' Norman Foster in Astana ' ...
    • Jabba the Hut said, on March 11th, 2006 at 1:07 am

    Is Norman Foster having a bad acid flash-back? Anyone?
    More on the "Palace of Peace and Accord" (2004 - 2006) from the Foster + Partners website ...

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  9. #9

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    This building seems to be tapping into the power of the Triforce from the mystical land of Hyrule.
    Last edited by Vengineer; October 14th, 2006 at 01:34 AM.

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  11. #11
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Kazakhstan’s Futuristic Capital,
    Complete With Pyramid


    Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
    Women from several Central Asian countries weeding the lawn in front of a pyramid
    in Astana designed by a British architect.

    nytimes.com
    By STEVEN LEE MYERS
    October 13, 2006

    Astana Journal

    ASTANA, Kazakhstan — The peak of Lord Foster’s pyramid here rises 203 feet above an unnatural elbow of the Ishim River.

    It was, like much else here, built in a rush — barely 22 months from conception to construction — for a triennial congress of world religions, the second of which was held in September, even before the building was really finished.

    The pyramid’s apex is glazed with doves fluttering in a blue sky beneath a yellow sun — blue and yellow being the colors of Kazakhstan’s flag.

    It is not subtle, but little is here in Astana, a new capital rising self-consciously out of the treeless steppe of Central Asia.


    Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
    The peak of Lord Foster's pyramid in Astana, Kazakhstan, rises 203 feet above
    an unnatural elbow of the Ishim River.

    The New York Times

    Other countries have built futuristic capitals in remote outposts, Brasília most famously, and other cities have experienced feverish, transformational construction, like Dubai or even the imperial capital that once ruled Kazakhstan: Moscow.

    But none have sprung up quite like Astana, from the ambition to create not only a national capital but also a national identity shaped almost exclusively by a single man: the country’s president since its inception, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev.

    “The chief architect is really the president himself,” Yerzhan N. Ashykbayev, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at the ministry’s new building, which opened in April 2005. “Every project, every building is approved by him.”


    Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
    It was, like much else here, built in a rush — barely 22 months from conception to
    construction — for a triennial congress of world religions, the second of which was held
    in September, even before the building was really finished.


    Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
    The pyramid’s apex is glazed with doves fluttering in a blue sky beneath a yellow sun —
    blue and yellow being the colors of Kazakhstan’s flag.
    It is not subtle, but little is here in Astana, a new capital rising self-connsciously
    out of the treeless steppe of Central Asia.

    The pyramid, the newest addition, occupies the current end of an axis through the city’s center. It links the ostentatious presidential palace to a skeletal steel observation tower called Baiterek, which symbolizes a mythical tree of Kazakh legend where a bird named Samruk laid its eggs.

    At the opposite end stands a semicircular, semi-Stalinist building occupied by the state energy company, KazMunaiGaz, whose riches have given the country a golden egg not unlike the giant sphere at the top of Baiterek.


    Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
    No capitals have sprung up quite like Astana, from the ambition to create not only
    a national capital but also a national identity shaped almost exclusively by a single man:
    the country’s president since its inception, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev.

    Whether this futuristic utopia is visionary or folly is not a question openly debated here, though the decision to relocate the capital in 1997 from Almaty, a more cosmopolitan city, has not been universally welcomed by the officials who had to move — and who still fill the flights back to Almaty each weekend.

    Nor have the reasons ever been thoroughly explained, though Mr. Nazarbayev last year invoked the decisions of Peter the Great to move Russia’s capital to St. Petersburg, and Ataturk to move Turkey’s from Istanbul to Ankara. Mr. Nazarbayev, modestly, declined entreaties to name the place Nursultan and settled on Astana instead. It means capital.

    This provincial city with an unremarkable history and an ever shifting identity — it was originally called Akmola, then Akmolinsk, then Tselinograd, or Virgin Lands City, after Khrushchev’s plan to turn the region into fields of grain — has become one of the world’s busiest construction sites. Already more than $7 billion has been invested, with untold billions more planned.

    Under a new plan, the city is projected to grow significantly by 2030 to a million inhabitants — compared with almost 600,000 now, already double what it was a decade ago — and spread over tens of thousands of acres.

    The central axis will eventually link the remains of a medieval settlement, Bozok, to a new university: “an Oxford or Harvard of Central Asia,” as Mr. Ashykbayev described it.


    Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
    Under a new plan modeled above, the city is projected to grow significantly by 2030 to a million inhabitants —
    compared with almost 600,000 now, already double what it was a decade ago — and spread over
    tens of thousands of acres.

    The man who is, by title at least, the city’s chief architect, Shokhan Mataibekov, described the Astana of 2030 as a symbiosis of urbanity and nature. As for the nature, the plan calls for planting 185,000 acres of trees, creating vast tracts of parks and forests in an otherwise barren landscape.


    Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
    The man who is, by title at least, the city’s chief architect, Shokhan Mataibekov, described
    the Astana of 2030 as a symbiosis of urbanity and nature.
    As for the nature, the plan calls for planting 185,000 acres of trees, creating vast tracts of park
    and forest in an otherwise barren landscape.

    Some of the world’s most famous architects have been attracted by the country’s flush coffers. The original city plan was drafted by the Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa and has since been revised to a grander form.

    Manfredi Nicoletti of Italy has designed a concert hall, a boatlike shape with folds like origami.

    Lord Foster, the British architect, has a new project that echoes his pyramid: a giant conical structure, bent as though blown by the harsh winds that are notorious here. It is known as the Khan’s Pavilion and will be a bookend of sorts, like the pyramid.

    When completed, it will contain stores and theaters, a water park and seven acres of terraced gardens modeled on nothing less than the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

    The centerpiece of the city, eventually, will be yet another tower, envisioned as a bullet-shaped tower of blue glass suggesting the pointed hats of Kazakh national dress. “It should have a purely Kazakh spirit,” Mr. Mataibekov said.

    He cautioned that the design was preliminary. Mr. Nazarbayev comes to review the ever expanding model once or twice a month. Mr. Mataibekov said of the tower, which would be the tallest in Central Asia, at 1,300 feet, “The president has not seen it yet.”

    The president’s hand is unmistakable. Inside the orb atop Baiterek, in fact, his palm print is impressed in a triangle of gold and silver, pointing toward his palace. Visitors who place their hand in his, as it were, are said to have luck and prosper.


    Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
    The president’s hand is unmistakable. Inside the orb atop Baiterek, in fact, his palm print
    is impressed in a triangle of gold and silver, pointing toward his palace.
    Visitors who place their hand in his, as it were, are said to have luck and prosper.

    Even so, the residents are not entirely reverential. The rapacious construction has displaced many. A new stadium is being built where several hundred families once lived in summer cottages, tending pastures and gardens.

    Bakhidzhan Kadekeyeva and her husband, Nurmukhamet, one of the last families to remain, have been ordered out of the ramshackle home they built themselves. “This stadium is being built on tears,” she said.


    Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
    A skeletal steel observation tower called Baiterek symbolizes a mythical tree of Kazakh legend
    where a bird named Samruk laid its eggs.

    The new buildings have also spawned unflattering nicknames, a form of private dissent. Baiterek is called Chupa Chups, after the lollipop. A government building became known as the Lighter and was positioned in such a way near the KazMunaiGaz semicircular headquarters that the whole complex became the Ashtray.

    In May, the Lighter caught fire.

    “There is a saying,” said Olga Shishanova, an art critic for the weekly newspaper Nedelya here. “A ship will sail as it is named.”

    But Fettah Tamince, chairman of Sembol Construction, a Turkish developer working here, said Astana enjoyed a lack of restraint on vision, as long as one’s imagination fit with Mr. Nazarbayev’s.

    “It is still a young city,” he said, alluding to Khrushchev’s dream of populating the “virgin lands” of Soviet Kazakhstan. “I call it, still, a virgin.”

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Manfredi Nicoletti of Italy has designed a concert hall, a boatlike shape with folds like origami.
    Manfredi Nicoletti

    New Concert Hall
    Auditorium per 3500 posti ad Astana - Kazakhstan

    Astana, Kazakhstan

    http://www.europaconcorsi.com/db/pub/scheda.php?id=9011




















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    STRATEGIC PROJECTS OF THE REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN

    http://www.massimov.kz/?ft79&version=en

    First drafts and sketches of the to-be capital :



    Plan of development of the new administrative center of Astana
    on the Left bank of the Ishim River:



    The ethic park on the Left bank of the Ishim River picturing
    the entire Kazakhstan, 2003:


  14. #14

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    Foster just loves diagrids, doesn't he?

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1 View Post
    Manfredi Nicoletti

    New Concert Hall
    Auditorium per 3500 posti ad Astana - Kazakhstan

    Astana, Kazakhstan

    http://www.europaconcorsi.com/db/pub/scheda.php?id=9011


















    excellent photoes

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