Baku to the future: changing architecture in Azerbaijan’s capital

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Baku to the future: changing architecture in Azerbaijan’s capital
A computer-generated image of the National Gymnastics Arena

New buildings are transforming the city ahead of the 2015 European Games

Baku to the future: changing architecture in Azerbaijan’s capital
A computer-generated image of the National Gymnastics Arena

Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, is experiencing a building frenzy to match a Gulf state. It has a new luxuriantly planted seafront esplanade, which emulates La Croisette at Cannes; and glossy hotels — such as Fairmont, Four Seasons, Hilton, Kempinski and Marriott — glint in the sun.

The building boom has been accelerated by this summer’s Baku 2015 European Games, the inaugural multi-sports event. All the stadiums are complete — or almost complete — apparently.

The new 68,000-seat National Stadium is an echo of London’s Olympic stadium — a bowl with inward sloping sides. The exterior is conceived as an ever-changing film and light show. Even more impressive, architecturally, is the newly adapted football stadium. The original structure was finished by German prisoners of war in 1951 and renamed in 1993 after Tofiq Bahramov, the linesman who gave England their crucial — and contentious — third goal in the 1966 World Cup final. []

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