Regional development of greater Baku

Today Baku is the largest city on the Caspian coast, is the industrial center of Azerbaijan, which accumulates nearly 90 percent of total investment and economic power throughout the country. And its unique location on the two key transport routes in the direction of East-West and North-South is only now becoming clear.

Baku has heavily been overloaded and overcrowded. Today the population of the megalopolis is over 3.5 million people. Two or even three times more people than envisaged for capacity of urban communications live in Baku. If before 1985 the population density in the center of Baku was 100-110 persons per hectare, today the figure is already 350-400 people. It is known from international experience that these components are a major problem in the capital infrastructure. Managing such a city is complicated and sometimes goes out of control. Active housing construction is carried out due to population growth in the capital.  

On the one hand, Baku is limited by the Caspian Sea with the specific conditions of wind roses, weak soils, high groundwater, with complex exogenous processes - landslides, avalanches, and difficult seismotectonic conditions.

Four million population in Baku uses infrastructure of two million city that is stipulated in the general plan.

The last General plan for Baku was adopted in 1987. Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani government, through the Azerbaijani Committee on Architecture and Town Building and with loans from the World Bank, completed the project on drafting a regional development program for Greater Baku. The project includes the prospective development of Baku, Sumgayit and the Absheron region as a whole in the subsequent 20 years. Similar projects have been implemented in some countries of Eastern Europe. However, none of them covered the capital along with its suburbs, with a population of over 3 million people. The project will involve new technology, such as the use of a geographic information system.

The economic geography of Baku has changed over the past 15 years - the traditional industry replaces the industry with the lowest working capacity. Territory and specific of wholesale trade and service sector is growing rapidly, as business centers. In this context, the purpose of effective urban planning is to have a more flexible urban planning in the light of the market economy. The future task is a question of perspective development of the Absheron Peninsula, where the pace of urbanization is felt rather weak. The optimal development of these territories should be determined over the next 3 years. For example, the General Plan in 1987 included the development of the north and south of the Absheron Peninsula, as well as the creation of new satellite - cities.

The Regional Development of the Greater Baku project will cover approximately 280,000 hectares, which includes the Absheron Peninsula, the administrative territory of Baku (including Garadag district), Sumgait, Khirdalan and part of the Absheron district.

The main goal of the Regional Development Plan up to 2030 is to create and implement management mechanism of the urban development process in Baku, adopt and approve main transport scheme of Greater Baku, implement environmental rehabilitation of the Absheron Peninsula in land, air and water areas.

HISTORY

As in any project, first of all, it needs to consider the history of this issue. In Azerbaijan, this time coincided with the colonial period and therefore the formation of cities, their system and the principle of development actually copied the principles, first in tsarist Russia, and later the Soviet Union. This explains why, in particular, Baku is not similar to other eastern cities, and other cities of Azerbaijan has not got face of full modern cities, remained at the level of agricultural settlements.

Today, when Azerbaijan regained its independence, it is necessary to, first of all, develop a new urban development managing system because firstly: Azerbaijan is a new state with its own legal system, and secondly: in the absence of purely Azerbaijani traditions of urban development in the 19th and 20th centuries, it is necessary to develop a modern, scientific system of settlement of towns in Azerbaijan.

At the end of 19th century and in the 20th century, general plans were developed for the construction and improvement of cities. General plan is the main town planning document, which regulates planning and development of cities, industrial and functional areas, transportation and engineering, as well as the principles of environmental protection. General plans were relevant and necessary for urban areas of up to 50,000 hectares, but today the plan began to grow to 100,000 hectares, and even the 200,000 hectares. Today the territory of Baku in the administrative borders is estimated at 213,000 hectares. On this territory it is unrealistic to project every building and construction.

Plans for development are prepared for such large territories. The goals of the development plans include: elaboration of major transport schemes, regional development (functional importance of land), activities for environmental improvement.

LEGISLATIVE REGULATION

One of the most important steps in resolving issues of urban development in Azerbaijan may be the adoption of town-planning code and a number of priority laws, "Regional Development of Great Baku" project head Novruz Eldarli said. He said that Azerbaijan should adopt a number of legislative acts to control the urban development process in modern cities. Today Azerbaijan has only one law "Principles of Town-Planning", although it is necessary to adopt the laws on 'General plan', 'Land', 'Rules of development of the city' others.

He said that Azerbaijan must have its own code and its laws, in which all the fundamental positions of town-planning must be indicated. "The state must control, manage development and modernize cities even in a market economy," he said.

The project manager also said that the pace and volume of construction in the cities of the country from year to year increase. Town-planning greatly develops in all district centers. The number of places in schools increased ten times. Olympic and sports complexes, health facilities, tourist accommodation facilities, parks, recreational facilities, refurbished theaters and cultural centers are built.

As to the traffic development, a revolutionary change happened here. The pace of development of road network is unique for the entire period of construction in Azerbaijan. However, it is time for a second and even third centers in Baku. One of these centers should be cultural, the other - commercial, the third - administrative and so on.

"There are such plans. A new project will be prepared to optimize the public transport and parking," he said.

Now the population of Baku, according to official statistics, is 2.25 million people, including internally displaced people. This figure increases by 20,000 people annually.

TO LEAVE OBSOLETE IN PAST

The demolition of illegal buildings in Azerbaijan is still urgent. "Maybe we can learn from Russia, which is also on the stage to resolve the construction of so-called reserve house, which is sold to the population at reasonable prices," "Regional Development of Great Baku" project head Novruz Eldarli said.

"In this regard, the state involvement is important because 'reserve house' is comfortable and modern apartments almost ready for living in exchange for released lands" he said.

He said that such a practice exists in the world. The state must build new settlements, neighborhoods for 3,000-5,000 apartments and provide citizens with comfortable apartments but not money. "Experience shows that financial compensation does not solve the problems. In this case, liberated land development will be more literate and centralized," the expert said.

According to well-known architect Sanan Salamzade, founder of SAN ART Company, it needs to follow the experience of other countries. For example, today, France is developing a program of "Future of Paris", on which various searches are conducted. If to look through the experience of Berlin and Moscow, within a short period, they were able to regenerate this area and today the process of development, regeneration of the old buildings under the new necessities of life is continuing well. These countries firstly began the restoration of communications.

The main thing is that we should not in any case lose the image of the Baku city, which is always compared with Naples, i.e. seemed to like an amphitheater.

Salamzade believes that the old quarter in Baku should be cleaned, leaving beautiful facades, as it was done in Berlin. Baku also was called second Paris, but without the roof because of the lack of attic floor.

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