Inside SCI-Arc

    The SCI-Arc Gallery is open daily, 10am-6pm.


02.23.07 - 04.22.07 | SCI-Arc Library
Zaha Hadid Architects and Eric Owen Moss Architects: Adventures in Kazakhstan: Competition for Republic Square, a mixed-use project in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Exhibition talk: March 7 at 7pm in the library

This exhibition features the design entries of London-based Zaha Hadid Architects and Los Angeles-based Eric Owen Moss Architects for an invitational competition for a multi-use building complex—including a five star hotel, luxury residences and office spaces—on Republic Square in Almaty, the former capital city and cultural center of Kazakhstan.

Zaha Hadid Architects:

Architectural Concept and Site Strategy:

The design of the proposal comes from the idea of using a Voronoi pattern to organize the program plan on the site. The Voronoi’s subdivisions, or cells, like biological cells within a tissue, are independent, yet act together in a larger system. We tested several Voronoi patterns on the site in order to derive a subdivision that fulfilled the requirements for the program, floor plate area, floor plate depth and distance between buildings.

Each of the cells define a discreet building, all but one being high-rises. There is one tower for the hotel, one for the commercial offices, four towers for the residential units and a single two story building for retail space. These building are connected by four undulating horizontal surfaces. The first surface defines the ground, making up the plaza. Some of the cells pull down to the basement levels bringing light and air to the lower levels. The second and third surfaces mark the distinction between the plaza functions from the rest of the floors above, while providing a canopy for the plaza. The lower levels below the third surface are retail, as well as the semi-public and shared programs of each building, such as the ballroom on the fifth floor of the hotel. The fourth surface manifests itself as the roofs of the buildings. Between these surfaces are draped the outer of two skins.

Eric Owen Moss Architects:

Republic Square is the ceremonial and organizational center of Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan. The competition site is located at the north-west of the square, which is surrounded by major public, institutional, and administrative buildings. Nominally, the project is a mix of a number of commercial uses: Luxury hotel and convention facilities, condominium housing, office space, retail and public space, and parking. But by virtue of its enormous scale and prominent location, the project will become the constructed symbol of this newly affluent Central Asian nation.

The nature of that built symbol is the essence of the competition assignment.

Almaty’s climate is one of extremes of heat and cold. The conceptual solution connects Republic Square with a “Great Hall” to the east, which enlarges the city’s capacity to accommodate large public functions in inclement weather, or simply as an indoor alternative to the square.

The program requires a grouping of discrete high rise structures, each defined by a different housing, office, hotel, or retail program. The design response is a single building which originates at the street as the Great Hall, ascends as five separate components which merge to become a single structure. The vertical sequence: One building becomes five buildings become one building again.

Historically, Almaty is area of sometimes violent seismic activity. The Great Hall is conceived as a sequence of arches, connected as a horizontal “spring,” positioned to absorb lateral ground forces. To unify the action of the spring, a cable net ties the spring components together. Four seasonal braced “light” net towers, roughly square in plan, each a different size, are supported on the “net-springs.” The braced nets funnel seasonally varying patterns of sunlight through the tower interiors to the Great Hall below.

The topography rises gradually to the south to the site of the National Art Museum. Four horizontal condominium housing blocks extend south from the Great Hall across the rising landscape. On the north side public seating on a terraced earth mound abuts the Great Hall. Both the housing blocks and the earth-mound provide requisite lateral seismic resistance in the north-south direction.

The position of the primary structure maximizes twin spectacular views, one south to the colossal Tian Shan mountain range, the other north to the vast and austere Central Asian Plateau.