The only capital city located along the Caspian Sea is already ultra-modern, but that is not enough for Baku – a city of roughly 2.3 million, almost one-fourth of Azerbaijan’s total population – and a central government that is keen about kicking things up a notch.
More than 40 criteria were used to evaluate companies that would help develop the Azerbaijani government’s two-phased General Plan for Baku, which defines priority areas for urban development over the next 20 years. Thanks to previous urban planning work performed by AS+P in cities like Moscow, Tbilisi, Istanbul and Shanghai, the German architectural firm AS+P won the contract, issued by the State Committee on Urban Planning worth about $6.4 million, on April 12. AS+P is expected to finalize the General Plan and submit it to the government by the end of 2020.
According to the government, four priority areas for urban development are included in the General Plan: the formation of alternative centers and sub-centers, including a traditional city; urban and environmental renewal and regeneration; the protection of national cultural heritage sites and the unique architectural appearance of the city; and the gradual transition of the city's economy to a post-industrial era. In addition, the State Committee on Urban Planning and Architecture intends to expand the plan’s parameters for upgrading transportation and communications infrastructure.
AS+P is expected to leverage international expertise from city planning techniques for London, Toronto, Vienna, Dubai, Copenhagen, Paris, Doha, Prague and Moscow during its preparations for its plan for Baku.
Baku’s population density was 1,604 per square kilometer (619 square miles) as of January 2019, according to data provided by the State Statistics Committee of Azerbaijan. By comparison, the Caspian region’s most densely populated capital city is Tehran, Iran, which has 12,200 people/sq km, followed by Moscow, with 8,537 people/sq km.
The first of the city’s planning goals, compiled within the “Regional Development Plan of Greater Baku,” were introduced by the Committee in February 2014. The plan aimed to solve problems related to transportation and roads, the environment, and construction throughout Baku, but rapidly changing global urban planning standards and growing urbanization demands made it difficult to implement that plan, which led to the development of the General Plan.