The Great Flat North (or: MY beloved ASTANA!)

Approaching Astana
Approaching Astana
Crack in the sidewalk.
Crack in the sidewalk.
Gardener working in front of Baiterek.
Gardener working in front of Baiterek.
Seeing ghosts!
Seeing ghosts!

There were some odd sights in this respect too. For example some workers tearing up a seemingly normal

Out with the old
Out with the old

sidewalk and laying down pavement. Also visible are the posters plastered all over any construction barriers, proclaiming slogans for the 10th Birthday. Annoyingly these same posters were also on display in Almaty.

Foster + Partner's Giant Yurt-like Object
Foster + Partners’ Giant Yurt-like Object

16 Comments Add yours

  1. KZBlog says:

    Nice entry. I think you have a key point. The only people around the Left Bank are people who work there. Whereas the bazaar area, though a source of shame to many progressive Kazakhs, is always flooded with people. The city leaders have no interest in creating spaces that are pleasant or interesting for people.

    Good luck with the blog. I added you to my blogroll and made a post promoting this blog.

  2. One of the things to remember about the cracking etc. of some concrete/cement is the extreme weather conditions you find here in Astana. Going from an extreme of -40 to +40 (celsius) means some degradation of paving slabs etc. is inevitable. And yes, the rest probably can be explained by shoddy/rushed workmanship.
    One final note… “but ‘new’ Astana has been built up in 10 years, with the pace quickening over the past several”. Mostly true, except I believe the last 6-9 months have actually seen a huge freeze on new and existing construction projects, apart from the high-prestige and visible ones. But that is starting to enter into the murky world of politics here, so I’ll shut up for now 🙂

  3. molapse says:

    Good point on the weather factor. In Almaty I’ve been happily in ignorance of the real Kazakh winter (i.e. the wind!) that covers most of the country. Even 5 minutes standing on the tarmac in Atyrau this past December was enough for me!

  4. Nyura says:

    Have you ever been to Canberra (the capitol of Australia)? It has much in common with Astana, being only 100 years old this year and inhabited only about 80, built way out in the bush as a political compromise, far away from the appealing places settled already. Canberra does lack a ‘cult figure architect’, though. The city was a ghost town after working hours, and even the suburbs seemed empty on weekends — everybody went back to Melbourne or Sydney as often as possible.

    The maturation of Astana will happen (or not) as Kazakhstan matures (or doesn’t). I am looking forward to what happens on the 25th birthday.

    I’m looking forward to reading more from your blog!

  5. kazaknomad says:

    Molapse, now I REALLY want to go to Astana this fall when we return to Kazakhstan after reading your account of what it looks like. I’m confused though by your reference of giving a sweater to Astana for its 10th birthday. Is that a metaphor for what my husband would normally do, forgetting hats, coats, wallets, cameras, cell phones wherever we stop to visit? I think you must have forgotten your sweater in Astana but why would you need it in the middle of summer? That is my ONE burning question!

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