Of the many new constructions springing up around Baku, the trimorphous Flame Towers development is in no danger of being lost in the crowd. Nestled on a prime hilly vista with sweeping views of the bay of Baku, the mixed-use development was designed as a symbolic reflection of both the city’s past and future. Conceived by HOK International’s London office, the three separate towers of the development are designed to resemble three flames rising from the surrounding hills; a representation of Azerbaijan’s Zoroastrian fire worshiping heritage. It is also the desire of the developer, local company Azinko Development, for the Flame Towers to showcase the country’s progression to embrace Western international standards of construction and living. The design of the project is therefore intended to rival the style and standards of mixed-use developments found in New York, London, and Dubai.
The main construction site occupies an area of approximately 28,000 square meters, with the total urban development spread across 248,000 square meters. Responsibility for the management of the development was given to New Jersey-based Hill International, which has 80 offices globally, and has brought extensive international experience to the project. The project is the first major assignment for Hill International in Azerbaijan and according to Kevin Denton, the General Manager of the company’s Baku office, the unique positioning geographically and physically of the development has presented a number of challenges. From a logistical perspective, consideration had to be given to the time needed for procurement, with a number of materials having to be sourced from outside the country. Being positioned on a steep incline the location of the site also presented a challenge, with one side being elevated 23 meters above the other. Consequently, the excavation of the site was five stories deep in places and a vast bored pile-retaining wall was required to perform the excavation. Azerbaijan is in a seismic level-8 zone, and the development had to be designed accordingly, along with recognizing potential slip zones. Living up to Baku’s title as “the windy city”, winds on the site often reach 90-120 kilometers an hour, causing tower cranes to be shut down intermittently for safety reasons.
DIA Holding Limited was awarded the role of contractor, making it the largest project the locally based company has carried out. There are four main elements to the development: The Mall, The Residential Tower, The Hotel Tower, and The Office Tower.
The Mall will be one of a number of modern new retail destinations opening around the capital, and is located at the base of the towers, occupying a central position in the development, linking the towers to each other. The Mall is simultaneously the foundation and hinge of the Baku Flame Towers Project. It links the three towers at the car park and retail levels and reconciles the topographical changes of the site. In keeping with the general theme of the towers, the mall is designed essentially as a tripartite system, with public terraces, retail galleries, and car parking levels. As well as providing a modern retail space the mall will also serve as an integrated, multi-purpose event space. The basement car park will provide 1,200 car parking spaces for shoppers, workers, and residents of the towers.
The residential space is contained within the southern most tower, reaching a height of 181 meters. Apartments on the southern and eastern sides of the tower will enjoy an extensive view of the Caspian Sea, while those located on the northern face will look on to the office and hotel towers and beyond to the Old City. The three uppermost floors of the building are occupied by a penthouse apartment, known as the Presidential Suite or Cloud Space. Reaching a height of 150 meters, the Office Tower will provide extensive Grade A office space.
The northern corner of the site is occupied by the Hotel Tower and is described as “the most architecturally complex of all the Flame Towers”. Covering a total of 31 floors, the luxury hotel will consist of 305 rooms and 19 serviced apartments and will be managed by the international Fairmont Hotel and Resort chain.
© The Business Year