Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre

Astana, Kazakhstan

Standing on a site at the northern end of the new city axis, this enclosed leisure complex is urban in scale, occupying a total area of 100,000m2.

The centre features a large, flexible space that will give the people of Astana a sheltered public space where they can shop, eat out, watch a movie, view exhibitions and enjoy all sorts of cultural events all year round.

Undulating terraces provide green space for visitors while a tropical water park with a river that gently twists and turns through the landscape, pools and waterfalls provides a calming influence.


A key design challenge was to develop an environmental strategy for the Khan Shatyr centre that ensures the interior park space is maintained at a temperature of 15-30°C throughout the year, which is achieved by supplying air at high velocity up and along the internal surface of the ETFE.

Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre, Astana: Cool engineering that can take the heat


The structural engineering design of this project owes much to earlier cable net structures developed by Buro Happold, such as that of the King Abdul Aziz University Sports Hall in Jeddah which was a technical feat of its time.

The unusual form of the building was developed in response to the harsh Kazakhstan climate in which the temperature fluctuates from extremes of -35°C in winter to +35°C in summer . Its vast tent-like cable net structure is clad in clear ETFE (Ethylene Tetra Fluoro Ethylene) that allows natural light to flood into the space. Supported by a mast that rises from the 200m elliptical base to a height of 150m, the centre will be the highest peak on the Astana skyline.

The retail units are conditioned to 19-24°C dependent on the season. Transferring air from the retail area to the central space and from there to the car park, which must be kept above 5°C, reduces the energy consumption of the building by decreasing the fresh air load.

An aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) system provides a year-round sustainable source of base-load heating and cooling. Thermal modelling and 3D CFD (computational fluid dynamics analysis) allowed the complex building physics of the centre to be examined and design improvements were made as a result. This means that the internal environment is optimised to ensure a comfortable space for visitors to enjoy throughout the year.

Maldives Khan Shatyr_07_Foster and Partners
Features include botanical gardens, a mini golf course and a beach with sand imported from the Maldives. Image: Nigel Young, Foster + Partners


By working together, our specialist teams were able to deliver an internal environment for the client, that is optimised to ensure a comfortable space for visitors to enjoy throughout the year.

Khan Shatyr
A world record breaking entertainment experience for the visitors of Kazakhstan’s capital city. Image: iStock

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