In the early summer of 2013, HOK was invited to participate in a design competition for the 2017 Expo Design in Astana – the rapidly developing capital of Kazakhstan. The theme for the expo; “Future Energy”, challenged entrants to demonstrate the use of innovative technologies capable of affecting people’s perception of energy and green development.
In order to submit the most stunning and creatively adroit entry possible, a multidisciplinary team from the HOK Toronto office made up of Landscape Architects, Urban Planners, Architects, and experts in Sustainable Design, worked closely with equivalently talented engineering teams from ARUP and RWDI.
Inspired by the traditional assemblies of Kazakh tribes, the core concept of the design was to establish “A Place To Gather”. The design team sought to embrace technology as means to connect, to challenge the notion that it diminishes the significance of place, and to create a highly adaptable and sustainable gathering place for the world’s nations and peoples.
Visitors flow into the site through four well marked entrances that connect to the broader community. Wide promenades incised into the iconic Kazakhstani landform leads visitors ceremoniously into the epicentre of the site.
To achieve its ambitious sustainability goals, the design team integrated a series of renewable energy technologies throughout the expo site such as; solar boilers, photovoltaic (PV) panels, geothermal heating and cooling, and biogas. The site itself also has a designed life-cycle; the post-Expo site will be adapted to serve as facilities for the adjacent Nazarbayev University, and the Expo Plaza, winter garden, and landform are re-imagined as Kazakhstan’s national botanical garden.
The visitor plaza interweaves themed pavilions and amenities into a major orientation and event space. Surrounding the plaza, exhibition spaces are arranged within the sheltering mountain-form. This iconic piece of architecture is a fitting envelope to explore Future Energy in the pavilion design using the four classic themes: Sun, Earth, Wind and Water. Virtual technologies are used as creative interpretive opportunities to depict how future energy use can be efficiently mitigated, integrated into lifestyles and made accessible for all.
World Expo 2017 | Astana Kazakhstan | HOK
Image and Text Credit | HOK