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calendar   Friday - December 22, 2006

Under The Yurt

As we reported here last Spring, the Krazy Kazakhs of Kazakhstan were in the process of building a giant pyramid in their new capitol city. It was financed with all the oil money flowing in that used to go to Moscow. So what happened to the giant pyramid in the middle of the Asian steppe? Well, it was built and is now open for business with yak milk for all ....

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.

-- GABION: Hugh Pearman (February 20, 2005)

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So what do you do now if you’re the repressive dictator of a miserable third world backwater? Well, you gather your thoughts (and your money) and you decide to enclose a good part of your capitol city under a giant tent (yurt) to keep out the -31 degree winds of winter on the the steppe. And you use a special fabric for the Giant Yurt that traps sunlight so your peoples can enjoy swimming and golfing in winter. Not that any of them know how to swim and none have ever seen a golf course. Those are just details ....

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Kazakhstan has unveiled a new architectural project for its capital Astana - a giant transparent tent that will contain an indoor city. The 150m-high (500ft) dome, designed by UK architect Norman Foster, will be built in just over a year. The tent is being made from special material that absorbs sunlight to create the effect of summer inside.

Astana lies in the very heart of the Central Asian steppe. Temperatures there often drop to -30C in the winter. The final shape of the world’s biggest tent was revealed in a 3D model by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.  Astana could have its own beach all year round

Underneath, in an area larger than 10 football stadiums, will be a city with squares and cobbled streets, canals, shopping centres and golf courses. The idea is to recreate summer, so that when the outside temperature is -30C, the residents of the Kazakh capital can play outdoor tennis, take boat rides or sip coffee on the pavement cafes.

Called Khan Shatyry, the project is designed by Lord Foster, who has recently built a giant glass pyramid in Astana.  “Nothing of the sort has been done before, and from the engineering point of view it’s an extremely difficult project,” says Fettah Tamince, the head of Turkey’s development company Sembol that is building the tent.  Mr Tamince is nevertheless confident the company can complete the construction in just 12 months.

-- BBC (December 9, 2006)

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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 12/22/2006 at 03:13 PM   
Filed Under: • Odd-Strange •  
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