Astana, the futuristic capital of Kazakhstan, has been described as the best city you’ve by no means heard of.
Frank Albo, adjunct professor of historical past at the College of Winnipeg, needs to alter all that together with his latest guide Astana: Architecture, Myth & Future.
The quantity wraps an exhaustive research of the city round a central puzzle, whereas drawing consideration to some curious inspiration from the nice cities of Canada.
Twenty years in the past, Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazarbayev moved the capital of his nation from Almaty in the south to construct a brand new one ,000 kilometres away on the barren steppes of the north. Grasp deliberate by each Nazarbayev and Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, the city design attracts closely from folklore and fable to create a uniquely balanced city house stuffed with astonishing architecture.
"Kazakhstan has been hyper-mythologized for 1000's of years," says Albo. "For the Greeks, it was the land of the Amazons and Hyperborea, which was a spot of neverending renewal, goodness and perpetual youth. For those who search Astana on the Web, you may discover 1000's of web sites stating the ludicrous concept that it is the world headquarters of the Freemasons and the Illuminati.
"I've constructed a distinct segment profession as a decoder of buildings and wrote my dissertation on Freemasonry, so this drew my consideration to the city about 4 years in the past."
Whereas Albo was getting ready a course on utopian cities, together with a give attention to Astana, he was coincidentally contacted by Manitoba's protocol officer.
The officer requested him to information the ambassador of Kazakhstan and his spouse on a tour of the Masonic-impressed Manitoba Legislative Constructing.
"I slightly brashly instructed the ambassador that I knew his nation was utilizing monumental architecture to announce that it had arrived onto the world stage," he says. "However I instructed him that they had been lacking one thing frequent to all nice cities — a basis fable, a rooted story that ties the architecture collectively."
Albo volunteered for the job of chief mythologizer and visited the city many instances.
The extra he explored this "large Grimm's fairy story on steroids," the extra mythological symbolism and lore he found in the buildings.
"The central constructing in the capital is known as the Bayterek Tower and includes a golden egg in its centre, an invocation of the historic story of the tree of life and the Sumerian story of Etana," says Albo. "The Khan Shatyr Mall is the world's largest outside tent and channels a historic Kazakh yurt. As I checked out these buildings I noticed that the basis fable, which I each decoded and encoded, supplied an answer to what I see as the three best threats of the 21st century."
He notes that Astana has demonstrated its dedication to planetary sustainability as residence of EXPO 2017, which exemplifies the future of power; spiritual tolerance with a glass pyramid assembly place named the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation; and to nuclear non-proliferation by decommissioning the large nuclear arsenal it inherited from Russia.
The city replicates some of the finest design concepts from the nice cities of the world.
"Canada's contributions embody a nod to Toronto, which the planners felt had the good curb-to-avenue ratio," says Albo. "Excellent for clearing snow. In Ottawa, they checked out the Rideau Canal as a mannequin to create a beautiful promenade alongside their very own Ishim River."
Albo's guide is each a rigorous educational historical past of Astana, an exploration of fable and metaphor and a group of dazzling images. He is additionally positioned a secret message inside the guide. The primary particular person to efficiently decode the precise message, phrase for phrase, will obtain a golden ticket — an all-expense paid journey to Astana (see astanamyth.com).
Albo says he hopes that the instance set by Astana can even encourage Canadians to attract from their very own cultural heritage in designing new architecture.
"Myth is important to human identification," he says. "Canada's personal cultural heritage gives wealthy inspiration for that."