The Baku White City project will involve the construction of 10 urban districts with integrated working, recreation, and entertainment facilities. There will also be new transport networks, including underground train lines and tramlines along the seafront to reduce car use. The project is being developed by British firm Atkins, as well as Fosters and Partners, and other Azerbaijani specialists. Architectural diversity, ecological compatibility, and a considered integration of the new development into the existing urban context of the city were identified as major themes in the forming of the project concept. The creation of a new and modern city center will no doubt provide opportunities for local and foreign investors across many sectors.
Baku White City is an integrated project that features a range of mixed-use facilities. A high-quality commercial and business hub is being planned, and it is hoped it will attract inward investment, create jobs for local people, and satisfy demand for commercial space in Baku. The project will include a range of high quality residential neighborhoods, each with its own identity, providing 20,000 residential and commercial units, 40,000 parking spaces, and jobs for 48,000 residents.
As a whole, the Baku White City will represent a key retail attraction, developed as the premier destination in the region to accommodate high-end shopping, cafes, restaurants, and leisure opportunities. In this vein, a new waterfront boulevard that, in the future, could extend to link into the existing boulevard in the city center is also planned. The boulevard will act as the key interface between the White City and the Caspian Sea and will include a tramway linking the development with Baku city center.
A redevelopment of the coastal part of the district is also planned, and will be a hive of entertainment and shopping activity, and will link into the city’s current landscaped waterside promenade. The Waterfront plan also includes a major retail mall and two landmark hotels.
In addition, plans also detail an urban district called Babek Quarter. The traditional city blocks that it will include will contain family-sized apartments and smaller accommodation units as well as convenience retail and commercial facilities at street level. The streets will be lined with trees, and schools and parks will be located across the district. Furthermore, several large residential villas will be developed on the eastern edge of the district.
The development will be mostly 75% composed of residential premises, while office facilities will represent 9% of the space, and a further 5% will be designated to the retail segment. Key landmarks will also rise in White City, including a concert palace, a pavilion of contemporary art, a fountain square, and a modern open mall connected to the Baku City Mall by a footbridge.
One of the key investment areas for the project will be infrastructure. Major development plans for transportation, communications, and waste disposal are being planned. Taking into consideration national and international standards, the creation of engineering and utilities infrastructure, consisting of water, energy, and telecommunications networks will provide for a complex of utilities throughout Baku White City.
The mixed-use project is to take shape in Baku’s former “Black City” district, an industrial area with historic ties to the oil business that sprang up in Baku in the late 19th century. Representing the Baku of old, the east-end district played a major role in the oil industry for more than 100 years, with oil storage, transportation, and refining facilities dominating the area. Baku White City is to be developed over an area of 221 hectares, and is seen as a big step in ecological redevelopment plans. The project, it is hoped, will stimulate the construction sector and give the city a facelift.
With 221 hectares capacity for development and space for up to 50,000 residents—equivalent to the population of Andorra—Baku White City is one of the largest urban development projects ever undertaken. The potential for investment is huge, and Azerbaijan is welcoming both domestic and international participation in the project.
© The Business Year