SPORTY LOOK OF THE CAPITAL
Following the decision passed by the Olympic Council of Asia seven years ago on awarding the capital city of Turkmenistan the right to host the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, first in the Central Asian region, the city of Ashgabat has been actively preparing for this historic event. A grandiose Olympic village has been built in a few years. It includes about thirty major sports facilities, two fashionable hotels and residential buildings for athletes, an internal monorail and a number of infrastructural facilities.
One can see with the naked eye that the Olympic village's architecture is notable for its coherent style. Almost all of its elements - from large architectural structures to small design features, such as street benches, lights or fences - follow one artistic style. This style of the Olympic village organically fits in the general style of modern Ashgabat - a white marble city with wide avenues, regular parks and shady alleys.
However, the spirit of the Asian Games with its sports symbols is not confined to the Olympic village. It is present everywhere in the Turkmen capital, meeting the guests at the airport, at the railway station, along the motorways, shopping centers and squares. First of them is the official emblem of the V Asian Games, a circle with a green crescent, a silhouette of the head of the Akhal-Teke horse in the center of the circle with a golden ribbon around the horse's neck and a red prominence of a small star. As such, it represents an element of the flag of the Olympic Council of Asia, which is the sports symbol of all Asian countries that signifies friendship.
According to the designers of this emblem, the Akhal-Teke horse embodies health, while the crescent, like a rising moon, embodies new beginnings, clear goals and, most importantly, inspiration. Placed in a circle, all these elements signify unity, solidarity and constructive cooperation. This symbol also presents the name and venue of the V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in English. All these images and their colors reflect the motto of the 2017 Asian Games - "Health. Inspiration. Friendship."
The Asian Games mascot is another symbol. It is a motley tail of a flying bird, symbolizing the country's aspiration for the high goals. According to the commentaries on the mascot, it "artistically interprets the centuries-old history and rich cultural heritage of the Turkmen people. The main plot of the mascot is conveyed by the caravans moving along the Great Silk Way, yurts, Alabai, Turkmen Bakhshi, Goresh wrestling, cultural monuments symbolizing the flourishing of ancient civilizations in the Turkmen land, the fast Akhal-Teke horse, cotton, wheat, melons growing in the fertile Turkmen soil... All this organically fits in the beautiful appearance of modernity. One part of the mascot describing the present day features modern buildings with national decorative elements that were built in the capital and the Turkmen coast of the Caspian Sea. The mascot of the 2017 Asian Games is a kind of embodiment of the wealth of soul of hospitable Turkmen people."
In addition, the Alabai dog was selected as the image of the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. Turkmens have always regarded the brave, fearless and proud Alabai as a guard over their family hearths and well-being, as a friend devoted to his master, vigilantly guarding their flock, house and property. Given all these qualities, Alabai, being the image of the V Asian Games, was named Vepaly (faithful). Vepaly is sincere, fair and decisive. He always defeats the enemy. His courageous, strong-willed, fearless character will be an inspirational example for the triumphant victories of Turkmen athletes, who can be strong in fights, hospitable during holidays and selfless in any business. Vepaly's national clothes complement his identity.
Yet, there are not only the symbols directly relating to the current event that decorate the city on the eve of the holiday of health and sports. There are other symbolic structures in different parts of the capital city that in one way or another support the main theme of Ashgabat this year. There is one such structure called "Unity" among many sculptural compositions built recently in the center of circular traffic interchanges at the intersection of large avenues and streets. It stands in the center of the circle at the two-level intersection of Nurmuhammed Andalib and Atamurat Niyazov avenues.
The dynamic sculpture made of anodized metal, painted in glossy silver and gold, illustrates the idea of many streams merging into a single mighty torrent that can overcome all the obstacles in its path. Is it not so in sports, when the team success inspires every player? This composition is crowned by the torch symbolizing freedom, light, life, spirit and reason. It is noteworthy that many people took this composition, first of all, for the symbol of the Olympic flame.
Two more sculptural compositions at the intersections along the same Andalib avenue continue the sports theme. They are Monument "Zemin" (earth), which is reminiscent of the enlarged model of the football cup, and an openwork structure named "s" (growth). This is an allegory of any desire for development and perfection that can be attributed to any athlete.
In anticipation of the 2017 Asian Games, one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the world has become even cleaner and more elegant. A large group of Turkmen and foreign specialists worked on the decoration and design of the urban environment to emphasize this event. Their main task was to create a festive emotional mood for the city dwellers and guests of Ashgabat.
In other words, decorating the territory during holidays is inextricably linked with landscaping the streets and yards, ensuring the comfortable life of people and improving the aesthetics of the city. Professionally speaking, line and areal objects, such as streets, squares, parks, boulevards, facades of buildings, small architectural structures are the main objects for festive decoration. It is not just about decorating them with certain images or information boards like those bright electronic billboards displaying the countdown to the start of the opening ceremony of the Asian Games. A huge role is played by the light architecture, i.e. artistic illumination of buildings, evening and night illumination, producing a grandiose effect both individually and as part of the city panorama.
In addition to the major facilities mentioned above, special decorations were made for shop windows, bus stops and vehicles, as well as green spaces, artificial luminous flowers, arches, lighting supports, light panels, roadside light boxes. Designers implemented their original ideas by using modern materials and latest technologies, such as complex light structures, stroboscopes, floodlights, metal structures decorated with holographic fabrics and flags, illumination figures, air figures and other techniques. They include both stationary structures and detachable fixtures that can be used repeatedly in the future.
The application of national symbols and carpet ornaments in decorating the facades of buildings and city streets is very popular in Ashgabat. The 2017 Asian Games added its theme and color to this traditional design. The city services have gained the valuable experience in using LED technologies in the festive decoration of the capital city that not only help create an unlimited number of variations of color, light and dynamics but also have a high energy-saving potential.
A great job has been done as part of creating a coherent artistic concept, and in the days of the continental sport festival millions of spectators saw the results with their own eyes or on TV. Naturally, such design of the city is episodic. After the holiday, the city returns to its regular life, but the sport decor will remind of itself for a long time, being part of history and happy memories of the colorful and unforgettable event of 2017.