Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan since 1997 is a strange host of post modern monuments. Located in the remote, desolate Asian steppes a shiny and shimmering city is growing out of the desert. Backed by the billions of petrodollars Astana is one of the only capital’s being built in the 21st Century, it epitomises ‘World Architecture’ with its underlying twinge of surrealism, but there is something more than just superficial spectacles…
An apparent playground for big name foreign architects being commisioned to figure out an outward symbolism for the city, something which is confusing, not only to outsiders but also Kazakhs. It is becoming a kind of collection of prolific architects producing cultural icons for a country desperately searching for an identity to cement their place in history after the desolution of the Soviet Union.
Granted I have only seen the city in pictures, but to me Astana looks as if the Kazakhs have got their hands on a cracked version of the software used to generate CGI’s on the PlayStation One, and had a fit with it. Despite this, the results are fascinating: a futuristic cityscape embracing the new chapter of Kazakh history and displaying occult notions from ancient religion. Many buildings have an odd presence on the Asian steppes, including Sir Norman Foster’s giant pyramid which devotes itself to non of the established popular religions but instead indicates sun worship as its focal point.
The city is massive construction site, the building’s completed show the direction in which the city is being guided under President Nazarbayev’s occult vision.
Here are some of the contemporary wonders of this glimmering odd capital: