The Soviet Union and the former Soviet states have always had a soft spot for enormous constructions. During the communist era huge Stalinistic buildings and exorbitant monuments were a hit. Today gigantic eco-towers pop up all over Russia and the former Soviet Union.
One should think that the countries get a group discount with iconic British architect Sir Norman Foster, who is behind 5 out of 6 of these sharply rising towers.
In Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, Fosters+Partners has designed the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation; which is shaped like a huge glass pyramid housing an opera house; a university as well as a national centre for Kazakhstans various ethnic and geographical groups.
A Palace of Peace and Reconciliation is not enough, so Foster+Partners has also designed the new and stunning Khan Shatyry Entertainment Centre in Astana. The center is a giant transparent (nomad) tent, which rises from a 200 meter elliptical base to form the highest peak on the skyline of Astana. Khan Shatyry Entertainment Centre will house 100,000 square feet of public park, retail, and entertainment space. The transparent material allows sunlight through, which in conjunction with air heating and cooling systems maintain an internal temperature between 15-30°C, while outside the temperature varies between -35 to +35°C across the year.
Foster+Partners has also revealed the design for a 280-meter tall and very avant-garde tower in the city of Khanty Mansyisk in Siberia. The tower will be a place for living, working and leisure and it is built like a cut diamond to maximize daylight through the extremely harsh Siberian winter months.
Moscow is Russia’s political and economical powerhouse – a status which will be further crystallized in the city’s skyline in the coming years. Under construction is yet another Foster-design, the colossal Russia Tower, which when completed in 2012 will be the tallest building in Europe at 612.2 meters. The tower will furthermore be the largest building in the world with a natural ventilation system.
Another Moscow-monstrosity is the Crystal Island (previous described on Momondo), which is scheduled to be build within the next five years. With a height of 450 meters and around 2.5 million square meters of floor space the building will be the largest (in floor space) on earth. The Crystal Island – popularly known as the Christmas tree – will be powered by built-in solar panels and wind turbines.
It is not only in Moscow and in the far East that new architectural landmarks spring up like mushrooms. In Saint Petersburg, Russia’s gas giant Gazprom, will build its new headquarters - the 396 meter tall Oktha Tower. For a change it is not Foster+Partners who is behind the design, but the UK-based architectural firm RMJM, who proclaims that the building will be “one of the most environmentally sustainable high rise buildings in the world”.
Despite the environmentally correct intentions, The Oktha Tower, which is due to start in 2008 and be completed in 2012, has received heavy criticism from heritage and conservation groups who have prompted fears that the tower would impact negatively on Saint Petersburg’s historic skyline.
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