Charting its rise as one of Central Asia’s main players, Uzbekistan is looking to relaunch its capital city Tashkent onto the international scene with the creation of a new mixed-use business district.
The symbol of a nation rapidly embracing change, Tashkent has been grappling with a familiar question for urban planners: how do you design a new business core at the heart of an ancient capital, that is connected with the surrounding urban fabric but with a distinctive forward-looking identity?
The Uzbek capital is no stranger to large-scale redevelopment - the devastating earthquake of 1966 razed the city centre to the ground - but with ‘Tashkent City’ the country is embarking on its biggest urban regeneration project in decades.
The redevelopment of 80 hectares of prime downtown land will spearhead the city’s transformation, creating a mixed-use urban development driven by a business district. Arup was appointed by Akfa Holding, to develop the masterplan for this ambitious mixed-use district with a green heart, featuring business space, residential areas and a retail and leisure offering – and to design a flagship congress hall and adjacent high-rise 5-star hotel.
84,500 m2 Hotel & Congress Hall
Iconic buildings transform Tashkent's skyline
With a sleek outline, the five-star hotel and Congress Centre deliver Tashkent City’s first definitive statement of transformation, marrying contemporary design with tradition. As the venue for the 2020 Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the complex must satisfy the demands of a contemporary, international multi-purpose conference and business complex.
An aluminium mesh wraps the hotel and Congress Centre at ground level, giving the building complex greater visual coherence. The mesh serves both poetic and practical purposes: it helps prevent heat gain and conceal technical infrastructure elements to maintain an elegantly streamline façade. Referencing traditional Uzbek decorative patterns, the mesh will add to the night-time visual storytelling by means of an LED lighting system.
Multi-disciplinary consultant team delivers resilient, premium facilities
Tashkent City will also deliver a new high-rise building: at twenty-one-storeys, the resilient five-star hotel will redefine the city’s skyline. Tashkent’s history meant the city had not developed an extensive national building code for high-rises. Our seismic experts worked with the local authorities and our client, compared relevant international codes with local code and developed an appropriate solution. A piled raft foundation was used to deliver a resilient hotel on a difficult soil stratum in an earthquake-prone area.
Designing a top-of-the-range hotel presented another challenge. Luxury hospitality developments follow stringent operator requirements: to enable work to proceed at pace, Arup’s specialists opted for a flexible grid layout enabling any high-end operator to step in. After Hilton’s appointment, its design specifications slotted neatly into place, enabling interior design detailing to start almost immediately.
Comfort, optimum security, state-of-the-art audio-visual and IT infrastructure are just some of the interfaces that needed to be brought together for the entire complex: controllable lighting and cooling systems will ensure sustainability is central to the development’s flagship building complex. Arup’s team of specialists provided architecture, structural, geotechnical, mechanical, electrical and public health engineering design and specialist services for lighting, façade, audio visual and acoustics.
Delivering an integrated design solution-at speed
Located in a strategically central part of the city near the Chorsu market, challenging geotechnical conditions meant the area had been overlooked, offering an opportunity to create a new heart for the capital.
The brisk design and development process saw Arup work hand in hand with contractor Discover Invest (contractor company of Akfa Holding): an initial meeting became a hands-on workshop with the client, enabling the team to present renders the very next day. A speedy approval process meant Arup’s team of specialists started work immediately, proceeding to technical analysis and design development as construction and excavations got underway.
Arup developed the masterplan for this ambitious project, introducing new approaches to infrastructure and energy, transport design and sustainable living. A dedicated business environment will be balanced by abundant green spaces, leisure, retail and residential provision.
But what were the critical factors in delivering such an ambitious project against an accelerated deadline? According to Arup Project Director, Ercan Ağar, this multi-faceted challenge demands team work and close client partnership.