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Designs revealed for new-look Kazak capital

Foster + Partners unveils designs for a new mixed use development in Astana, the new capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Abu Dhabi Plaza is inspired by its sister project, the Central Market Redevelopment in Abu Dhabi.

The plaza is a staggered matrix of buildings with a retail and leisure podium and a hotel cluster at the base that rises to form a series of office and residential towers to the north - creating a new landmark on Astana's skyline. The retail podium contains elements which are a reinvention of a traditional marketplace and also incorporate a light rail station and public square.

Situated along Astana's 'green axis', Abu Dhabi Plaza incorporates a series of temperate year-round winter gardens. Light is channelled deep into the mass of the buildings, creating a network of sheltered pedestrian routes through the site. A highly efficient compact scheme, the organisation of the building into a matrix of blocks is an effective means of maximising the potential for thermal insulation during the colder winter months, when temperatures can reach as low as -40 degrees Celsius.

The cluster formation - where the taller blocks of varying heights rise out of the matrix - has been carefully designed to provide the appropriate views for the different building types. The more exclusive penthouses and the higher residential towers have dramatic views over the city, while the lower rise offices and hotel are more inward facing to reinforce the sense of place.

Sections of the retail mall will draw on the historic legacy of Kazakhstan's traditional Bazaars by recreating a bustling marketplace ambience. Light shafts between the blocks are infused with colour by the use of laminated glass panels that flood the spaces below with a dynamic play of light, shadow and patterns.

The design has been driven by the extreme local climate, with the final solution one that will maximise solar gain in the colder months with an innovative thermal hot water collecting system for the south facade. The north facade is heavily insulated to harness heat, and appears like a solid grid interspersed with random glazing.

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