Sunday, July 31, 2005

The city of Baku

Unforunately, quite a sad topic to write about. Baku was one of the cities well known for its architecture and the way it was build. The city is partly on a hill and the sea wind really well ventilated the streets as all the houses were of smaller height. Excellent idea, though no more functioning...

Baku has unofficially over 3 million inhabitants. It has grown a lot due to the number of refugees and IDPs (Internally displaced person) moving into the city as well as due to the number of people from the regions who were coming to Baku with the hope of finding employment. That was the case for mainly young people from the regions.

In recent years started this boom of building cca 20 floor high appartment blocks all over Baku. There is no policy where and how to build. I heard there is no city architect, no law that actually coordinates the number of new buildings and places where to build them. Old houses and markets are dissapearing as the owners get offered incredibly high sums of money to sell the places. Another way is increasing the rents of places so that people cannot afford paying rent any longer and have to move out. Within no time the old buildings/parks/markets are teared down and in a few weeks there is more than 5 floors finished... The speed of building is incredible.

All this might not look as bad but to name the main problems, the city's ventilation is crippled, the new appartment houses are build too close to each other so in a case of earthquake or some other catastrophy, they shall be the cause of a domino effect.

And one real story... inhabitants of one old house came to talk to the workers that were building a new house right next to their home. They were interested how high is the building going to be. The worker answered, but the main message was, do not buy appartments in these houses. We are obligued to use cheap material and the less the better. In few years thus these buildings will necessarily fall down!

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