somewhere between Las Vegas and Pyongyang
February 16, 2015 4:43 AM   Subscribe

Ashgabat City of White Marble constructed in desert.

Ashgabat was recently noted by the Guinness Book of World Records as having the most white marble-clad buildings in the world -- 543 new buildings lined with white marble covering a total area of 4.5 million square meters.

You can also pop into the door to hell if you are in the area. Previously, previouslier.

Maybe combine that with National Melon Day if you are there in August!
posted by asok (31 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
#1 profession in Turkmenistan: marble polisher.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:59 AM on February 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oil money is a hell of a drug.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:13 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pancake Day tomorrow, Corned Beef Day in March, and now Turkmen Melon Day in August. My diary is really filling up.
posted by sobarel at 5:19 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Someone's got an ego...
posted by dowcrag at 5:21 AM on February 16, 2015


Eh, why not? Life is miserable anyway everywhere, might as well have some cool shit to see.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 5:39 AM on February 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's Albert Speer does Burning Man.

I really liked the White Wheat museum.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:40 AM on February 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


With all the rotating statues, and renaming the months after his mother, and his self-penned “book of wisdom”, Niyazov would have been a wacky, entertaining kook, were it not for the millions of actual people who had suffered under his quirky whims.
posted by acb at 5:42 AM on February 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Clicked for the article. Stayed for the comments.

On a serious note - the politics of architecture are fascinating. I wonder who the actual architects are here and how they feel about these apparatus of opression. Is that too cliched a phrase to use here? Ultimately the audience of the buildings are the population and the messsage is we are in control. Or am I projecting too much. The article itself is not without its issues as can be seen in the underlying comments but the images themselves are very interesting.
posted by numberstation at 6:09 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The CIA factbook is interesting. Literacy is very high but so is unemployment. The income is apparently 100% oil and natural gas which is usually not good. On the plus side it looks like there aren't any traffic jams!

Love the monument to the dead dictator's book.
posted by bukvich at 6:25 AM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I want this Minecraft mod.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:28 AM on February 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Here is the national melon day image which deserves its own FPP.
posted by bukvich at 6:30 AM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


That architecture feels so...dominant. I find it interesting how the political ideology of soviet russia and the contructivist inspirations of almost 100 years past still have a massive impact on the landscape there.
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:31 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wonder what they say about the empty sky-condos in manhattan?

It's Albert Speer does Burning Man.

I thought that was Las Vegas...
posted by ennui.bz at 6:34 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of the Soviet Union in 1988, except all the gold-plated luxury had gotten awfully dingy by then. Think the 1968 version of the Hotel in the film "Grand Budapest Hotel." Still, I'm not sure we can criticize a regime just for using oil wealth to build monumental buildings that don't benefit the majority. In Western consumerist society, we just privatize that function.
posted by rikschell at 7:07 AM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


It was weird seeing all that architecture without any actual human beings using it, aside from a few standing figures here or there. But no children playing, no families, no teenagers hanging out. Every place looked like a weird museum for that reason.
posted by clockzero at 7:08 AM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


The whole city is like that. The only people you see are in uniform. When I was there ten years ago there was only one hotel westerners were allowed to stay in, and it was jammed packed with French and South Koreans there to build the city. Well that and prostitutes- the rumor was that it was tukmenbasy's family that controlled the trade.
posted by JPD at 7:16 AM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love the Neutrality Museum! I heard they added a new wing but no one goes there; they just stay in the middle.
posted by argybarg at 7:27 AM on February 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


That architecture feels so...dominant.

It's ok, it's just spillover from the 50SG thread.
posted by sneebler at 7:28 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love the Neutrality Museum!

I'm neither here nor there about it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:37 AM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


No no no to white marble in deserts! Didn't they go look at Brasilia first? Sure it looks good for a few years, but keeping it actually white is a nightmare.
posted by Joe Chip at 8:01 AM on February 16, 2015


Man, the Church of Scientology is going to get a huge steal when this ready-made complex of crazy goes up for sale.
posted by resurrexit at 8:42 AM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


That white marble has such a misguided, old-fashioned feel; it's sort of like the totalitarian dictator public space version of the gross excess you see on MTV Cribs. Like, "this is what the fanciest thing is, so we'd better have it to show how rich we are." The interior of the Tunis Airport is like that, and many of the public government buildings I saw when I was there in 2008. It just feels vaguely unsettling and almost pathetic, like they don't care about actually making things look nice, only about asserting an overt sense of power and that sort of design was the best thing they could come up with.
posted by something something at 8:44 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's like Pyongyang, but with abundant natural resources to export. I love that the Neutrality Museum was followed by the massive Military Academy complex.
posted by msbutah at 9:34 AM on February 16, 2015


Ok I know I'm supposed to be making fun of them, but wow, that 5 mile path to the hills ("Serdar health path") is just amazing. Imagine that, wanting to get away from the city, just walk on this path and there you are, heading up to the hills. I don't know how that would work in a North American city because you would spend the first 20 miles passing through suburbia and gas stations and big box stores.
posted by pravit at 9:43 AM on February 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


That architecture feels so...dominant.

It's ok, it's just spillover from the 50SG thread.


This is why we can't have nice discussions about constructivism ;-)
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:38 AM on February 16, 2015


I think I like the exteriors more than the interiors--there are some really interesting shapes. I love the slanted, almost pyramidal structures.

The next Bond film is going to use this city as a setpiece, calling it now.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:11 PM on February 16, 2015


While clicking through Turkmenistan's Wikipedia article, I stumbled across this chart. Does anyone know what the hell happened to the Turkmen population between 1998 and 2001?
posted by Iridic at 12:34 PM on February 16, 2015


Why the hell doesn't Texas look like that? We got (had?) oil money. We got delusional billionaires. We got plenty of space for it. WHY NOT?
posted by hap_hazard at 4:03 PM on February 16, 2015


Mm, the cool white sheen of totalitarianism. Human Rights watch: Turkmenistan 2014. "Turkmenistan remains one of the world’s most repressive countries. The country is virtually closed to independent scrutiny, media and religious freedoms are subject to draconian restrictions, and human rights defenders and other activists face the constant threat of government reprisal."
posted by Nelson at 10:25 PM on February 16, 2015


Why the hell doesn't Texas look like that?

Our monumental architecture budget is allocated to sports stadiums and arenas.
posted by bukvich at 6:12 AM on February 17, 2015


Not Texas, and not nearly as grand as this, but something about it gave a whiff of Oral Roberts University to me.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:37 AM on February 17, 2015


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