'A higher standard of architectural design': Construction begins on Kazakhstan's sustainable Expo City

by Kim Megson | 21 Jun 2016

Construction has begun on Astana Expo City in Kazakhstan; the site of the world’s next international architecture exposition.

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) have designed the city's masterplan and 28 buildings around the 2017 Expo theme ‘Future Energy’.

The ambitious project seeks to showcase alternative forms of energy and transport to fly the flag for green and sustainable practices. The design team’s goal is to minimise the site’s energy-use while maximising its energy-harvesting potential, allowing the Expo to be powered mostly by renewable sources – including wind and solar.

“Through creativity, patience and compromise, we were able to successfully procure and implement a plan for a sustainable community that will be capable of catalysing city development in a totally new way,” said AS+GG partner Adrian D. Smith.

“We worked closely with the client and the governments in Astana and Kazakhstan to develop urban planning and design guidelines that in many instances challenged the established standards, obsolete codes, and regulations.”

Strategies incorporated into the building design include high-performance glazing that will maximise solar heat gain in winter and provide shading in summer; exposed thermal mass that will provide temperature modulation; and the widescale recycling of waste generated on site.

Leisure forms a key component of the project, with the design team creating venues that can be easily converted into museums, performing arts halls and exhibition spaces after the three month exposition comes to a close.

"It was important for us to understand the larger issues surrounding all international events like this and to conceive of Astana Expo City 2017 as an integrated urban, architectural, social, cultural and sustainable contributor to the city; not as an island of buildings but as mixed-use neighbourhoods providing quality places to live, work and learn long after the Expo is over,” said AS+GG co-founder Gordon Gill.

“The designs for these amazing projects need to leverage the massive investments that nations make, not just for the event but also for the people, cities, and nations for which they were designed. This was our goal.”

AS+GG won an international competition for the project ahead of 104 other entries. They are working under a design-build contract with IT Engineering, a group consisting of Sembol Construction and Mabetex Group.

Astana Expo City’s exposition will run from 10 June - 10 September next year. The 174 ha project will feature exhibition and cultural pavilions (118,620sq m); service areas including shopping, socio-cultural, educational and civic facilities; parks (72,000sq m); and parking.

A post-exposition legacy phase will then follow, converting the site into an innovation park expected to be one of the most sustainable in the world.

In their own words:

AS+GG partner Robert Forest

“We knew early on that our role as architects and planners would go beyond the delivery of a design. What was important to us in this project was working toward a higher standard for urban development and architectural design, one that serves the needs of a 21st-century community. Our philosophy was to design a community that can be used for the Expo, not an Expo that has to be retrofitted into a community”.

AS+GG partner Gordon Gill

“The forms and language of the buildings were designed to reduce their energy needs and operate as ‘power plants’ that harness energy from the sun and/or wind. The buildings will use the power directly or supply it to the district-wide smart grid for storage or use.”

AS+GG partner Adrian T. Smith

“Through creativity, patience and compromise we were able to successfully procure and implement a plan for a sustainable community that will be capable of catalysing city development in a totally new way.”

Astana Expo City  Kazakhstan 
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Construction has begun on Astana Expo City in Kazakhstan; the site of the world’s next international architecture exposition. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) have designed the city's masterplan and 28 buildings around the 2017 Expo theme ‘Future Energy’. The ambitious project seeks to showcase alternative forms of energy and transport to fly the flag for green and sustainable practices. The design team’s goal is to minimise the site’s
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Construction is underway ahead of next year's Expo, which is themed 'Future Energy' / Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
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