By Team IAnD
Photography: Courtesy the architects
With the profound thought that the dead require a revered burial, the winning design of the National Pantheon in Kazakhstan's capital Astana has been recently unveiled...
It is conceived like a giant whirlpool; a large rotunda that has been haphazardly wound with wide ropes, edges of which trail randomly away, radiating from the core outwards. This proposed and winning design of the ‘Kazakhstan National Pantheon’ by OCRA studio, Bicuadro architects and studio 3piu1, proposed to be built within a large natural environment surrounded by undeveloped land, 17 km south of Astana.
The design originates directly from an analysis of its context; a series of walkways, paths, and strips connect the building to the landscape, where it is located; metaphorically representing a patriotic attachment to the country. The pantheon, measuring 55 meters high and 70 meters wide, is the core of the project.
Influenced by the pantheon of Rome, the ancient temple of all Roman emperors, the structure shares similar characteristics. Stone, marble and gold-bronze will decorate the walls and flooring while insulating glass would be in several exterior partitions; and thematic gardens – each relating to a different religion, will anoint the surrounding landscape. A combination of shapes will configure a grand space, where the centre provides a strong focal point – an oculus cut out at the top of the sphere that is intended to serve as the burial plot of Kazakhstan’s most prominent heroes.
The wide and symmetrical dome will be made of a large collection of halos that will intersect each other. Several halos are helicoidal ramps that allow a wide number of people to assist ceremonies by watching from above, where they have a panoramic view of both the interior space and outside landscape. From here, it is possible to observe the whole monument with light passing through the loops to enter the dome from all sides.
The dynamic complex appears as a ‘galaxy’, when viewed from above with a surging energy of people flowing towards it, the circulation defining the programmatic dispersal of denominations: Roman Catholics, Christian Orthodoxies, Jewish congregations, Muslims, Buddhists etc. The north wing is the main entrance from which all the other wings radially extend to eventually join in the pantheon. The complex is completed by an administrative wing on the south side with offices and a restaurant court; pedestrian corridors lead to the outdoor parking area and the Kabanbai Batyr Mausoleum.
With respect to the various religions practiced throughout the country, the construct hopes to become a meeting point for all beliefs; where each group will have its own hall for ceremonies and a double indoor-outdoor walkway - whilst the indoor walkway invites visitors to freely pass through the upper level that leads to the pantheon or visit the basement level, where the heroes are buried in the deep of a massive stone wall. Inside the main sanctuary, a marble and gold disk is suspended on top of the crypta.