Expert opinion

Tashkent is a Unique City

6/2019

     Many experts, both historians and architects, agree that Tashkent is a unique city, which can rightly be called an encyclopedia of architecture, because the city has incorporated, indeed, completely different urban planning solutions, styles of architecture, structures and decorative elements. There are ancient eastern buildings, Russian architecture, and a rich variety of styles of modern construction of the twentieth century, which organically fit the new complexes of the XXI century.
     The famous German architect, expert in architectural art, Peter Knoch presented his book “Tashkent through the eyes of a German architect” in May of this year at the Goethe Institute in Tashkent. The book includes 30 architectural objects of 4 eras with annotations of each building. The book also has a map of Tashkent with pinned architectural monuments. The author gives many comparisons of the architecture of Uzbekistan with similar solutions in urban planning in other countries. For example, the author compares the residence of Duke Romanov with castles in England and Germany, and the old residential buildings in the city center — with Berlin multi-storey buildings. Admiring the capital of Uzbekistan, considering Tashkent a unique city in terms of architecture, the famous specialist shared his opinion with the magazine “EBU”.
 
     – Mr. Knoch, you are known in Uzbekistan as an architect and the author of the architectural atlas of Tashkent. Can you tell us more about yourself?
     – With pleasure. Yes, I am an architect. I studied in Berlin and started working there as an architect. I graduated from the Department of Architecture of the Academy of Arts. I live and work since 2003 in Moscow and Berlin. Since 2013 I am an employee of the international company SPECTRUM. Currently I manage the office of this company in Berlin.
     – You are the author of numerous publications on architecture and urban planning. You have designed architectural maps and atlases of many major cities, which now includes Tashkent due to your efforts. How did you come to this passion for architecture, in particular, for the sights of Tashkent?
     – There are many reasons. But first of all, the hobby began with interest and deep respect for the cultural and historical heritage of architecture in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is a cultural space about which too little is known in Europe. And in addition, I am personally confident in the huge potential of Tashkent, which I wanted to show in my works.
     – Can you please tell us about your book “Tashkent through the eyes of a German architect”? What priorities did you have in mind when you included specific architectural sites of the capital? And why there are thirty sites and, not say, fifty?
     – This is related to the format of the book. In fact, this is not an atlas (although there is a map), and not a guide, but rather a photo series of impressive objects of Tashkent. In this regard, we decided to limit the book to 30 objects, which was not easy, because all the monuments are unique.
     – What interesting objects that could be presented in the book did not get included in it?
     – Basically, the book does not cover objects that are outside the center and outside the city. Of these, there are many houses built in the 30s and 50s of the last century, as well as from 1960 to 1980, which are really of great interest from the point of view of architecture.
     – The demolition of old but significant buildings is always painful for residents, especially old-timers and historians. In your opinion, is it possible to keep them in new developments and, having modernized them, to fit them into a new complex? After all, it is much more interesting and impressive. For example, many believe that “Dom Kino” (Cinema House) could well be kept.
     – I agree. The building of the Cinema House could be left and integrated into the Tashkent City complex. If you know, in the Potsdamer Platz quarter in Berlin, there are number of historic buildings, which are perfectly combined with the modern houses of the quarter and give it today a certain spirit, we can say, originality.
     – It is known that Spectrum, where you are also the Director of the Berlin Office, is developing blueprints for engineering networks for Tashkent City. Which of the implemented projects can this International Business Center be compared with?
     – With many. From the project La Defense in Paris to the “Moscow-City” in Moscow. However, in Tashkent, the issue of design of public space between the buildings and the Central Park, which unites all the buildings into a single harmonious complex, is better solved.
     – There is an opinion that from the historical point of view Tashkent architecture is not very attractive and, basically, it is like a transit point on the way to the ancient cities of Uzbekistan. What do you say to that?
     – Of course, from the point of view of the architect, I do not agree with this opinion. The history of architecture does not end in 1900. The architecture of the twentieth century is presented in Tashkent at a high world level — and at the beginning of the century, and in the Soviet times, and today. Yes, the city is not all ancient, but what remains of the historical heritage is worth seeing.
     – In Tashkent one can find the architecture of different styles and eras. Are there, in your opinion, unique structures peculiar only to Tashkent, which are not present in other cities and countries?
– Certainly. For example, the high-rise residential building “Jemchug”, which harmoniously combines the functions of an open space for leisure outside the apartments with closed forms of apartment sections. And I saw it only in Tashkent! Believe me, I have seen many cities in the world. Tashkent is still a unique city!

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