عنوان مقاله [English]
Following its independence from the Soviet Union in the 90s, Turkmenistan included a new area to its capital Ashkhabad – the White City. The City has an area of about 5,000 hectares and was added to southern Ashkhabad in late 90s. The purpose for construction of the city has been cited as in line with the government efforts to create a new identity for Turkmenistan – an identity which would be based on the Turkmen culture and ethnicity. The White City is comprised of many governmental buildings, ministries, banks, medical centers and hotels together with high-rise buildings. These are all connected to each other through a network of highways. This is what makes up the new Ashkhabad.
The Old Ashkhabad which was based on the Soviet-era pattern of “The Future City” cannot represent Turkmenistan’s new identity. To the same effect, the New Ashkhabad must be accommodated with adequate facilities to be the efficient capital of a modern country. It was thus that improving the landscapes of the city was put on the agenda of the decision-makers. This, of course, followed the country’s economic prosperity and the request of the officials. The new outlook for Ashkhabad which has been dubbed as the City of the 21st Century is the prelude to the construction of the White City.
At the first stage, the government picked the idea of Le Corbusier in the 20s for a garden-city which envisages the construction of commercial, residential and industrial zones with vehicle and pedestrian access points as well as the high-rise buildings among trees. Le Corbusier’s ideas, however, suffered from several instances of flaw. They included the lack of a mechanism to measure the human value, and the preference given to occupants of vehicles over pedestrians.
The next stage comprises attaching a stronger attention to the role of public spaces. This is meant to showcase the authority of the government.
In this stage, the lack of variety in terms of dimension, the lack of group activities and the lack of micro spaces are the main features of group spaces. In efforts by the government to promote the beauty of the city in the White City, three elements are clearly visible. They include repeating themes, using single colors and using monuments. The monuments are a building, a statue or a re-production of cultural works of the Soviet era meant to portray the greatness of the Union. The new item in the list in the White City is luxury. The white color is used to erase the grey color of the Soviet regime from the memories of the people. What is mostly visible in White City is the application of architectural designs that belong to other nations. This is because Ashkhabad lacked an architectural heritage. Another reason is the persistence of the government to make the architecture of the White City different from the joint cultural heritage with other nations of Central Asia. Examples of this include using the post-modern Western architecture in residential buildings and mosques that are based on the common architecture of Turkish mosques.
The White City is eventually the result of dictations by the government in all stages from the designing of its landscape to the implementation of architectural phases. Therefore, despite the government’s efforts to give a different image to the City from the ideological image that the Soviets pursued and also due to the architectural differences across the course of history, the White City is just like the old Ashkhabad has a monotonous outlook and its image has remained at the level of pure landscapes.