Baku has been undergoing an enormous transformation in recent years. The city’s skyline is changing dramatically as increasingly ambitious mega-projects spring up, juxtaposing old and new and attracting plaudits and visitors alike.
October 9th, 2013
The face of Baku is changing rapidly as a series of mega-projects push architectural boundaries, all part of the greater Baku regional development plan, which is a sustainable vision for the future sustainable growth and development needs of the city and its surrounding areas. The plan, which envisages over US$6 billion of investment into Baku, includes the expansion of the street and road network by hundreds of kilometres, the introduction of new types of public transport such as light rail, skytrains and metrobuses, the reduction of pollution and the creation of parks and public gardens in an area of 34,000 hectares.
Heydar Aliyev Centre
Designed by renowned British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, the curved, pearl-white cultural centre was named as one of the best architectural projects of 2012 and was built to reflect the philosophy of post-independence leader Heydar Aliyev.
Spread over 55 different artificial islands to the south of Baku, this project is the most ambitious yet and will become a city accommodating up to one million people over its four stages of development. The centrepiece will be the world’s tallest building, Azerbaijan Tower, at 1,050 metres.
These three towers shaped as flames resemble the ‘land of fire’ that is Azerbaijan. The towers have quickly become a modern emblem of Baku and host offices, apartments and the five-star Fairmont Hotel. Completed in 2012, the towers cost an estimated US$350 million.
Originally established as a promenade in 1909, Baku’s Caspian seafront is being expanded along the city’s entire shoreline and is a popular place for an evening stroll.
Built in the 12th century and located in the Old City, the Maiden Tower is one of Azerbaijan’s most recognisable emblems and is also inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Designed by Atkins and Foster+Partners, the award-winning White City Project will transform the formerly run-down ‘Black City’ area of East Baku into a thriving and sustainable business and residential community spread over 220 hectares.
Palace of the Shirvanshahs
Similarly recognised by UNESCO, the palace was the seat of power of the Shirvanshah dynasty, prominent in the region in the 15th century and a classic example of medieval Azerbaijani architecture.
National Flag Square
National Flag Square in Baku covers 60 hectares and features the state symbols of Azerbaijan, a map of the country, and most notably the country’s 70 metre by 35 metre flag, flying on a pole 162 metres high.
A curious sight for Londoners, 1,000 TX4 cabs, in purple, currently serve Baku and thousands more are being ordered in preparation for the European Olympic Games in 2015.