QUEST FOR EXCELLENCE
The exhibition center of the Union of Artists of Turkmenistan was booked for three whole weeks in the midst of last summer for the exhibition “Architecture of the Arkadag era”, which was organized by the Union of Architects of the country with the support of the administration of Ashgabat and the Ministry of Construction and Architecture of Turkmenistan. The architects had so many works to exhibit that they could not be crammed into a fairly spacious room on the second floor of a historic building in the very center of the capital. So, the exhibition had to be enlarged not only along the walls but also on additional stands in the center of the hall. Despite the hot days, there were so many visitors that the exhibition was extended for a few more days. Why was the exhibition of so great interest and obviously successful?
It is probably due to the fact that few citizens remain indifferent to the changes happening in our cities. Everyone wants to see with their own eyes what new buildings will adorn our streets tomorrow, where new residential areas will grow, what they will look like and how comfortable the apartments of the next generation of houses will be for living. All this was presented through technical plans, mockups and video presentations by leading domestic experts in the field of urbanism and architectural design. It was not simply another exhibition in Ashgabat. It was demonstration and competition of the best works of national architecture and urban planning created in recent years.
Judging by the feedback from visitors, new architectural projects for the capital of the country and the city of Arkadag, as well as promising, futurological works by young and mature authors, reflecting their vision of the buildings of the near future were of the greatest interest to them. The exhibition aimed to identify the best projects in three categories and put them for construction: residential architecture; architecture of public buildings; urban planning and design. In total, more than two hundred works from thirty-five authors and groups of authors were exhibited, so that the jury members had plenty to choose from. During the appraisal, each project was evaluated taking into account its relevance, planning solutions for buildings and structures, urban planning aspects of their placement, landscape and urban design, as well as the volume and quality of work.
After reviewing all materials, 50 most mature and original works were selected for the next stage of the competition to award prizes. At the second stage of selection, twenty-one works were recognized as deserving high marks and prizes. These projects aim at creating comfortable living environment that meets the current and future needs of people in accordance with the social, ideological and artistic requirements of society, as well as the principles of national architecture and urban planning.
Following the voting results, the winning projects were announced in each nomination, their authors were awarded prizes and corresponding diplomas. Among them were representatives of the older generation of architects Mikhail Dorofeyev, Sahy Durdiyev, Berdymurad Pemekov, Bezirgen Shadurdyev, Bayram Shamuradov, as well as their young colleagues Jennet Bayramova, Murad Ballyev, Kerim Kurbanliev, Merdan Mamedov, Dovran Mametkuliev. All these authors have a sense of the era. They are attuned to the current trends in their profession and brilliantly master the most modern digital programs for modeling and presenting their works. The contribution of students and teachers of the Department of Architecture of the Turkmen State Institute of Architecture and Construction and the Department of Architecture of the State Academy of Arts of Turkmenistan was awarded with special diplomas from the Union of Architects.
The exhibition demonstrated the broad panorama of creative searches of our architects. It generated discussions on modern trends in architecture not only among professionals but also general public, and it also presented the regional perspective and the latest impressive premieres in the field of construction culture, as demonstrated in the new city of Arkadag.
It is natural that special attention has been paid to the capital of the country since the first years of independence, not only as an administrative, economic and cultural center, but also as a city that has acquired international status in a short historical period and became a symbol of the political life of the whole country. Thanks to the persistent effort of the national leader of the Turkmen people, Chairman of Khalk Maslakhaty Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to turn Ashgabat into an exemplary modern city with highly developed infrastructure and urban development that is not inferior to world standards, not only local resources were mobilized, but also significant foreign investments were attracted. As a result, we now see a completely unique, growing city, which is even included in the Guinness World Records as the most white-marbled city in the world.
This, first of all, speaks of the stylistic uniformity of the modern Ashgabat architecture, subordinated to a single artistic concept. It is no less significant that the most important infrastructure tasks are being addressed in parallel, such as modernization and expansion of transport arteries, engineering networks, and, perhaps most importantly for people, the housing problem.
And another important thing is that it was for the first time in the past thirty-two years of the existence of the Turkmen state that a purely architectural exhibition was held in Ashgabat. Given the ongoing construction boom, this kind of event is long overdue, and Turkmen architects over these decades have successfully participated in architectural exhibitions at international venues in Moscow, Minsk, Yerevan, Baku, Astana. It is time now to show the achievements of national architecture in their homeland. Much of what was created at the state designing institutes of Ashgabat and private workshops has been implemented over the years. It can be noted with satisfaction that talented young people came forward, who have presented absolutely competitive projects of the same class and level that have been established in other countries of the world.
The modern architecture of Turkmenistan is characterized by the wide urban scale, combining elements of global urbanism and local traditions. And at the current exhibition, numerous visitors saw the diversity of approaches to solving professional tasks, creative searches and achievements of Turkmen architects. The practical benefits of such exhibitions are indisputable, especially for students and young professionals who carefully study the works of their colleagues and mentors. This helps them to develop a taste, teaches them to understand architecture more deeply and create their own works worthy of our time.
When it comes to architectural art, the environment in which the master works is very important. Does it offer conditions for a natural professional search or constrain the master by predilections and preferences of the customer? This problem has existed since ancient times, when the caste of builders was born in the first cities and early states of Asia. Much of what we now call architectural monuments are, as a rule, the fruits of commonwealth, mutual trust between customers and contractors. And the master must also be able to convince the customer that he is right, and the image of the future object becomes the main tool here.
Architecture is part of the culture. It is the art that speaks the language of space and form. One of the indispensable tasks of architecture is to shape the look of the near future and beyond. That is why, along with commercial projects, architects always create purely futuristic projects that are not expected to be realized soon. They generate ideas and shape the contours of the future.
The 21st century is becoming much more anthropogenic compared to the past century. There appears a different sense of space and new, previously unthinkable structures, building materials. The attitude to nature, requirements for everyday amenities, comfort and safety become different. Issues relating to the environment, climate change, violation of the water balance are turning into the most acute problems of our time, and the well-being of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren depend on solutions to these problems. How will all this affect the appearances of houses, streets, districts and entire cities? It is the architects, urbanists, designers who will have to respond to such challenges of the time and give a new impetus to the development of the national architectural school.
An architect is always a futurist, because what is built today serves the people of the next generations. And an architect is always a dreamer, because with all his daily cares, all his professional rationality, he cannot help dreaming about the ideal and its real features in his imagination. Innovative projects cannot be born without imagination and a risk of remaining unrealized. After all, fantasy can turn out to be both a prophecy and a forecast.
This year marks the 85th anniversary of the Union of Architects of Turkmenistan, the oldest public organization in the country. Over the years of existence of this art union, the world has become totally different. A lot has changed, but three simple rules of architecture have remained unchanged. They were formulated by the ancient Roman architect, Vitruvius, two thousand years ago. They are STRENGTH, FUNCTIONALITY and BEAUTY. Everyone who is related to our profession must remember these three words.