world's tallest tensile structure

Foster + Partners as Architects

The Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center was officially opened last night in the presence of President Nazarbayev and heads of state in a grand ceremony, with a performance by the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, timed to coincide with the President’s birthday and Astana Day. The Center represents a major new civic, cultural and social venue for the people of Astana, bringing together a wide range of activities within a sheltered climatic envelope that provides a comfortable environment all year round.

The tent-like, cable-net structure is located at the northern end of the new city axis and soars 150 metres from an elliptical base to form the highest peak on the Astana skyline. The building encloses an area in excess of 100,000 square metres within an ETFE dome, with dramatic views over the city and the Steppes beyond. Contained within it is an urban-scaled park, along with a wide variety of entertainment and leisure facilities, including retail, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, and flexible spaces that can accommodate a varied programme of events and exhibitions. The different levels form undulating terraces, the uppermost terrace forming a water park.

Temperatures in Astana can drop to -35 degrees Celsius in winter and climb as high as +35 degrees in summer. The three-layer ETFE envelope is designed to shelter the enclosed accommodation from weather extremes and to allow daylight to wash the interiors. In winter, a key challenge is to prevent the formation of ice on the inside of the envelope. This is achieved by a combination of temperature control and directing warm air currents up the inner surface of the fabric, a strategy that also prevents downdraughts. In summer, fritting on the outermost foil layer provides solar shading. Inside, low-level jets direct cool air across the space, while opening vents at the apex induce stack-effect ventilation.

Nigel Dancey, a Design Director at Foster + Partners, said: “Khan Shatyr will be an important new destination for the people of Astana to enjoy at all times of the year, whatever the weather. We are delighted to celebrate its official opening today. With the Palace of Peace and Khan Shatyr, we are proud to have designed the two landmark structures for such prominent points along the city’s main axis – their forms express the change of emphasis and function, from religion to entertainment, as you pass along this grand new boulevard.”

Khan Shatyry Entertainment Centre Landscape Architect

Charles Funke Associates as Landscape Architects

The Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre is a major new focal point within Astana the Capital of Kazakhstan. CFA undertook landscape consultancy services from concept to detail design. The proposed development of 7 levels comprises of retail, entertainment and leisure facilities. The intensive internal planting covers all 7 levels and creates a series of green cascading gardens.

The planting design consisted of mature specimen trees and living green walls creating the impression of an external environment internally. The climatic variations were significant so a controlled environment was created within the tented structure. This was critical when considering the appropriate plant selection and procurement methods.


Alumil S.A as Suppliers

"Rixos Khan Shatyr Residences" is located in the very heart of Astana, next to the new symbol of the capital – shopping and entertainment center "Khan Shatyr" and will be developed on 6,792 m2 of land . This is a unique complex which consists of the six towers for residential purpose and the two towers where ultramodern offices will be located. Its developer is one of the largest companies – "Sembol Investment & Development". The complex was put into operation in 2012.

Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center is a giant transparent tent designed by UK architect Norman Foster. The 150m high (500ft) tent has a 200m elliptical base covering 100,000 square meters. Underneath the tent, an area larger than 10 football stadiums is an urban-scale internal park, shopping and entertainment venue with squares and cobbled streets, a boating river, shopping center, minigolf and indoor beach resort. It is being made from ETFE suspended on a network of cables strung from a central spire. The transparent material allows sunlight through which, in conjunction with air heating and cooling systems maintain an internal temperature between 15-30º C.

The main façade has been cladded by M50 Curtain wall system and the M11000 Hinged system was applied for thermally insulated windows. Also all the internal shop fronts of Khan Shatyr entertainment Center are handed over by the hinged system M15000.

Texlon® ETFE skin

Vector Foiltec Ltd as Texlon® ETFE skin

The world’s largest tripod tent structure was officially opened in July 2010 to celebrate the 70th birthday of the Kazakh President, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Astana is only 20 years old, having newly been moved to strategically command the country more efficiently. It suffers one the coldest winters of any capital globally and the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre is an opportunity for citizens (10,000 at a time) to stretch their legs during the city’s bleak winter when temperatures drop to minus 40°C.

The building is primarily a shopping centre. Two levels of retail are built as two rings around the conical building perimeter with a concourse separating them. Above the retail deck, there are eating areas, a cinema, a golf course and at the top of the building sits beach areas with golden sand and pools.

Through the inner ring, towards the centre of the building there is a large multi-purpose circulation space where the 90m-high steel tripod sits. Around the 20m ring at op the tripod are fixed 192 cables. To these cables the ETFE tent element is fixed and draped.

ETFE was utilised for several reasons. Apart from the lightweight nature of ETFE, the inflated cushions allow light into the building whilst also maintaining a major element of environmental control.

With an 80°C temperature swing between winter and summer, keeping the building at a comfortable temperature is a challenge, as well as trying to resolve the small weather systems that operate internally. In the winter, the surface of the ETFE cladding is very cold, this means that warm air that hits this colder surface immediately cools and drops downwards creating an internal wind inside the building.

The internal swimming pool is also clad in a secondary ETFE space to avoid condensation on the main tent and to create a warm environment year round. On a cold sunny day with temperatures of -35°C externally, the tent is 12°C at the top of the ETFE cone.

As the ETFE cushions are a good insulator, it is like the building is wearing a huge fur hat.

The overall canopy design is very structurally efficient, weighing just 46kg/m² of steelwork to ETFE.

Originally designed for the space industry, ETFE does not pose any threat to the ozone layer.

The ETFE system is fully recyclable, does not degrade under ultra-violet light or atmospheric pollution and its unique non-stick, self-cleaning properties means that grime can be easily removed by rain.

ETFE has only 1% of the weight of glass and transmits more light. It costs 24% to 70% less to install and is resilient enough to support 400 times its own weight.

Products used in this project
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct link
SuppliersAlumil S.ASMARTIA M50
Texlon® ETFE skinVector Foiltec Ltd
Product Spec Sheet
Texlon® ETFE skin
Penthouse In Costa Blanca
next project

Penthouse In Costa Blanca

Private Houses
Alicante, Spain - Build completed in 2019
View Project