Kazakhstan’s new capital is a gleaming city of dramatic and inventive architectural compositions rising up out of the central steppe. The city demonstrates the post-independence achievements and ambitions of Kazakhstan.
Astana is an urban expression of Kazakhstan’s post-independence achievements, a statement of an increasingly wealthy and confident country. The city is rich with the symbols of the post-independence regime: a tower based around the imagery of the Kazakh ‘tree of life’, a pyramid to celebrate peace and inter-religious harmony and, in a nod to the nomadic history of the Kazakhs combined with a modern consumerism, a giant transparent tent which shelters a shopping and entertainment complex from the extremes of this steppe climate.
The capital of Kazakhstan since 1997, Astana has grown at a staggering rate. With a population of little more than 300 000 when it inherited the mantle national capital from Almaty, it grew to beyond half a million in just a few years. Plans that Astana would top one million people by 2030 have been revised forwards. World-renowned architects have been enlisted to help build the city: its general plan designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, some of its most eye-catching buildings by Norman Foster.