In 2017, Kazakhstan hosted the EXPO International Specialized Exhibition. EXPO 2017 was designed by Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture with a special focus on the exhibition topic, Future Energy. The key architectural structure of the exhibition complex was the pavilion of Kazakhstan – Nur Alem. This is the world’s largest spherically-shaped building, measuring 100 m in height from plinth level and 80 m in diameter. Its total area is 24,000 sq. m. Since the exposition’s completion, the building has transitioned into a museum of science and technology that focuses on future energy solutions. Here visitors can get information on a variety of topics, including energy, innovative technologies in use today and the potential of renewable energy sources.
Nur Alem’s façade incorporates photovoltaic elements that transform solar energy into electricity and two noiseless wind generators at the very top of the sphere. Constructing this unique eight-storeyed building required the use of over 13,000 tonnes of metal and 3,535 insulated glass windows weighing 1,626 tonnes. The glass used in Nur Alem is of a unique, two-directionally arched shape, which helps avoid angles and light refraction. Each insulated glass unit has been designed for its specific installation spot.
The sphere is supported by a central double core that is used to organize stairways and support functions such as service elevators and restrooms. A central atrium is surrounded by eight passenger elevators where visitors can experience the building and exhibitions as they travel on glass elevators from the ground level plaza to the top observation and event space. At the base, a covered access plaza organizes the entry sequence to the museum floors and provides additional exhibition space. Levels 2-7 are designated exhibition floors and level 8, the highest floor, is an event space with a viewing platform to observe optimum views of Astana.