05. Oct 2010

Dove of peace
Palace of International Forums in Tashkent/UZ

Text: Pfarré Lighting, Joachim Ritter
Photos: Andreas J. Focke

It is time we started focusing our attention on Central Asia again. For centuries nations such as Kazakhstan, Tadzhikistan and Uzbekistan were suppressed by a series of conquering warlords, the last being the Soviet occupation. At the same time, Central Asia has always been the geographical interface for trade between Europe and the Far East. These states are currently witnessing an economic revival and beginning to feel more confident in the future, which in turn is expressed in the quality of some recently completed architectural projects.

Over the centuries Tashkent has borne a number of names: Chach, Shash, Binkent, to mention but a few. Each of these names marks a chapter in the history of the town. Tashkent has always been an important centre of international trade. Unfortunately, only a very small part of its architectural heritage remains to this day – many historical and religious buildings were destroyed as a consequence of the Russian Revolution in 1917, and further as a result of the devastating earthquake in 1966.Some old buildings can be found to the west of today’s city centre in what is known as the historical town centre. The narrow winding alleyways in this part of town are a distinct contrast to modern Tashkent. Among the interesting old buildings is the Kukeldash Medrese (Islam School), which dates back to the 16th century and has been turned into a museum, and the Kaffali Shash Mausoleum. Tashkent contains many museums dedicated to Usbek and Early Usbek culture. The culture of the country and of the town of Tashkentis different from that of the neighbouring countries Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, which are only superficially Islamicized. Islamic culture has been practised and developed in Uzbekistan since the Early Middle Ages. This is due to Persian urban culture, which developed there over time. The Palace of International Forums in the capital Tashkent is one of Uzbekistan’s most unusual new architectural projects. The building often serves as a venue for state receptions and national and international conferences, and comprises, besides a restaurant and two spacious foyers, an approximately 43-metre high theatre and concert hall that seats 1850. The structure stands proud in the city. There are no signs of crumbling marble here – the Forum is built of fine black and white granite, an expression of the country’s desire for modern architecture and culture. From the outside the building is majestic and grand, a reminder of the magnificent monumental buildings of the past, and is supported along the front façade by huge round columns. The interior incorporates exquisite, high-grade materials, all in white. Sounds like an easy task for a lighting designer, but that is exactly where the risk lies – in this apparent simplicity. […]
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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 73

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