Astana, the new capital of Kazakhstan, lies in an austere eastern landscape with an inhospitable climate that can generate temperatures of -35 degrees Celsius in winter and +35 degrees in summer. The Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center is designed to provide the city with a range of civic, cultural and social amenities all sheltered within a climatic envelope - 'a world within' - that offers a comfortable microclimate all year round, whatever the weather. The building's tented structure has great resonance in Kazakh history as the tent is a traditional nomadic building form - Khan Shatyr translates as 'the Tent of the Khan'.

Located at the northern end of the city's formal axis, the masted structure soars 150 metres from a 200 x 195-metre elliptical base to form one of the highest peaks on the Astana skyline. Enclosing an area in excess of 100,000 square metres it comprises an urban-scaled park, with a 450-metre jogging track, along with a wide variety of shopping and leisure facilities, including restaurants, cinemas and entertainment spaces that can accommodate a varied programme of events and exhibitions. The park steps up the height of the building in undulating terraces and a water park, with wave pools and slides, weaves its way through the landscape.

The tubular-steel tripod structure supports a suspended net of steel radial and circumferential cables, which is clad with a three-layer ETFE envelope, formed as 3.5 x 30-metre cushions - a very light, economical and thermally efficient solution. The translucent material allows daylight to wash the interiors while sheltering them from weather extremes. Specific enclosures within the envelope are air conditioned, but the open circulation areas are environmentally tempered, with target temperatures of +14 degrees Celsius in winter and +29 degrees in summer. Low-level jets direct cool air across the space, while vents at the apex induce natural stack-effect ventilation. The challenge in winter is to prevent ice forming on the inside of the envelope. This is achieved by a combination of temperature control and directing warm air currents up the inner fabric surface, a strategy that also prevents downdraughts.

Sketches + Drawings



Facts + Figures

  • Appointment: 2006
  • Completion: 2010
  • Area: 100,000m²
  • Height: 150m
  • Client: Sembol Construction
  • Collaborating Architect: Linea Tusavul Architecture, Gultekin Architecture
  • Structural Engineer: Buro Happold
  • M+E Engineer: Buro Happold
  • Additional Consultants: Charles Funke Associates , Claude Engle, OZUN PROJE Ltd + Arce, Mechanical -Vemeks Engineering Ltd, Electrical - HB Teknik, ALKAS Consulting, Istanbul Technical University, SAMKO Engineering Contracting Co. Inc., Montage Services, Vector-Foiltec , Linea & Gultekin


  • Institution of Structural Engineers Structural Awards, Best Commercial or Retail Structure


60m Tripod leg weighs 351 tonnes.
Each 70m Tripod leg weighs 211.5 tonnes.
The ETFE and cable roof is very lightweight and thus efficient- the large spans would make for a very heavy structure if it was steel and glass- and by hanging the roof from the tripod all the cables are simply in tension, which is a very efficient system for steel.
Because of the cable net's nature as a tension structure the entire roof is designed to move as wind and snow loads are imposed - the whole structure will thus move - but in fairly small amounts.
12,300 driven piles and 94 bored piles under the foundation.
Total Weight (Tripod + Hub + Struts + Top Ring + Basket + Top Mast) + (Cables + Cable Supports & Anchorages) (1.600 tons ) + (404 tons 392 tons) = (1.600 tons) + (796 tons) = 2.396 tons
Reinforced + Lean/Screed Concrete=174.000 m³ ~ 431.800 tons.

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