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Carbon neutral development a first for Central Asia

The masterplan for the 300 villa Zira Zero Island development where power will come from an off shore wind farm and heating from solar panels and heat pumps, has been revealed by BIG Architects and engineers Ramboll. Waste and storm water will be treated on site making the development self contained, they claim.

Located within the crescent shaped bay of the capital city, Baku, its design includes seven peaks that represent famous mountains in the country and it is being described as a sustainable model for urban development.

'What we propose for Zira Island is an architectural landscape based on the natural landscape of Azerbaijan. This new architecture not only recreates the iconic silhouettes of the seven peaks, but more importantly creates an autonomous ecosystem where the flow of air, water, heat and energy are channeled in almost natural ways,' said Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner of BIG.

'A mountain creates biotopes and eco-niches, it channels water and stores heat, it provides viewpoints and valleys, access and shelter. The Seven Peaks of Azerbaijan are not only metaphors, but actual living models of the mountainous ecosystems of Azerbaijan,' Ingels added.

Each of the Seven Peaks will house residential developments that are envisaged vibrant urban communities connected to a series of private resort villages by a central public valley and surrounding beaches.

'Zira Island will be an important step into the future of urban development in the Caucasus and Central Asia. By using the wind, the sun and the waste the Island will produce the same amount of energy as it consumes. In a society literately built on oil this will serve as a showcase for a new way of thinking sustainable planning,' said Lars Ostenfeld Riemann, Ramboll's Group Director, Buildings & Design.

'Following other ambitious eco-city projects like Dongtan in China and Masdar in Abu Dhabi this project will cause the carbon emissions of people living there to decline over the next decade. From an engineering point of view we are just as thrilled by the challenge of letting the design of the buildings reflect the shape of the mountains of Azerbaijan,' he added.

Solar heat panels integrated in the architecture will create a steady supply of hot water, while photovoltaics on strategically located facades and roof tops will power daytime functions as swimming pools and aqua parks.

Waste water and storm water will be collected and piped to a waste water treatment plant where it is then cleaned, processed and recycled for irrigation. The solid parts of the waste water are processed and composted and finally turned into top soil, fertilizing the island.