The second stop of the World Association of Chinese Architects (WACA) visitation that took place program in June was Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west and Iran to the south. WACA delegation flow into Baku and was pleasantly surprised by the unique character of a very vibrant city where East and West culture blended and flourished. Baku, being the capital of Azerbaijan, is the largest seaport on the Caspian Sea, and is the cultural and financial centre of the region.
Visit to the Union of Architects of Azerbaijan Republic
Nested in an exceedingly romantic Street in the old part of town, is the stately building of the Union of Azerbaijan Architects’ office. The WACA delegation was received by the Chairman of the Union, Mr Elbay Gasim-zada. While translators’ ability to provide accurate translation left much to be desired, WACA was able to confer the purpose of our visit and our desire to establish friendship and exchanges in the field of architecture and the built environment, hopefully leading to information networking and closer cooperation of the two organization in the future. It is envisaged that considerable more effort and contacts will be required to establish a trusting relationship due to considerable cultural and linguistic differences.
Visit to Heydar Aliyev Center
The tour of the Heydar Aliyev Center was undoubtedly the most enlightening part of the visit to Baku. The work is a true testimony of the design style and skills of a great Architect Master, Zaha Hadid, who sadly passed away a short while ago. There was no one dull moment in the three hours those delegation members spent walking every inch of masterpiece both inside and outside. The free-form space is both humbling in scale yet friendly and embracing when you indulge in it. Hundreds of pictures were taken by everyone and shared to mark this memorable visit.
Baku’s old city tour
A tour of the old city demonstrated the deep-rooted historical culture and heritage of the region. It also illustrated quite clearly by the architectural style of the city’s unique geographical location, being at the threshold of Europe, at the same time, exiting the western tip of Asia and Mid-Asia. The city is exceedingly interesting to visit as culturally, and by the influence of religion, is Turkish in main-stream but exhibits traits of many cultures. Being situated next to the Caspian Sea makes it a truly beautiful city to live in.
Baku’s contemporary architecture
The City’s pursuit of contemporary architecture is obvious as the City’s skyline started to see gleaming iconic high-rise towers growing up in not few numbers. The Fairmont Hotel we stayed in is part of a three-tower and commercial podium development called the “Fiery Towers” as the buildings are shaped like flickers of flame. The intersetting of the older lowrise but more volumetric buildings with the new slender towers against the turquoise blue and calm harbor waters is a picture that any visitor would fall in love with.