Modelled on the Silk Road – the famous trading route that linked the east and west – the overhaul of the Almaty Botanical Gardens in Kazakhstan will once again bridge a divide and unite public spaces.
The existing botanical garden in Almaty, Kazakhstan already has trees, paths, buildings, facilities, and so on, meaning that any intervention should be sensitive to the existing elements, especially with living beings. This idea has been the main pivot and the backbone of OAB’s new proposal for the upgrade of the site.
Another important issue is that this is not just a garden, but rather a group of forests within the city. A long pathway with tall and impressive trees offering a unique experience: where pleasure, beauty and scientific knowledge is bound together. The garden has become an important green area for the city and its citizens, becoming a place where one can keep in touch with nature. However, the current poor aspect hides its real potential and beauty. It is necessary to recover the existing areas and to build new facilities in order to create the new Almaty Botanical Garden as a place both for vegetation and people.
A park is a natural or artificial outdoor area for human enjoyment, usually managed by a public institution. A botanical garden is an outdoor space for collection, cultivation, display and enjoyment of a wide range of species including trees, plants and flowers. Spaces such as Barcelonian-based OAB‘s Almaty Botanical Garden are dedicated mainly to leisure and health. This type of project is usually integrated into the urban structure of a city, playing an important role in its green areas system; for this reason, its access is usually open.
The new planned garden brings the opportunity to connect two important urban axes: Timiryazev Street, located on the north part of the plot, and Al-farabi Avenue, located on the south, which will receive a new look as a boulevard. To do so, it is necessary to open a new entrance on the south. Then, taking into account the existing paths of the garden, it is possible to draw a line that will connect the old Timiryazev entrance — now recovered — and the new Al-farabi entrance.
Given the name the ‘linking line’, this path has become a very important element in the organisation of the project proposal. As ancient cities along the original route, visitors can find along this line all the new buildings that transform the garden into a new point of attraction.
Leisure, health, education and research share a common space in a botanical garden, which is often run by a university, a research organisation or a foundation. The current potential of the gardens is amazing for the longevity of some of its species, however, it is imperative that is legacies of the past also be preserved.
Once located along the Silk Road, the proposed Almaty Botanical Gardens could be viewed as a metaphor of this once famous trade route – a piece of land that represents the link between Europe and Asia. In the Garden, it will be possible to find a network of paths that reflect the roads of the original route, and visit the multiple forests that a merchant would once have visited along his journey.
The current botanical gardens need to be improved in order to become a new point of reference for the city. Almaty citizens will see the new botanical garden as a recovered area, much more open and user-friendly than before, with a range of new activities. At the same time, new facilities, such as the new research centre, the conservatory and the climatron, will grow the Almaty Botanical Garden into an international space of interest for botanists and researchers, as well as tourists and locals.