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Azerbijan's Futuristic Eco-Island Plans

Azerbaijan may not leap to the forefront of your mind when you read the phrase "futuristic eco-island" but that might change when the country's plans for Zira island in the Caspian Sea come to fruition. It's going to be transformed into a 1 million square-meter tourist resort and residential area that'll have a zero carbon footprint.

The project's been designed by Dutch architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), and it involves nothing less than an almost complete transformation of the little island into something so futuristic that even the Thunderbirds Tracy Island pales in comparison.

The plan's eco-credentials are clearly set-out by BIG: By utilizing "the wind, the sun and the waste the Island will produce the same amount of energy as it consumes." Heat pumps connected to the sea will heat or cool the buildings, along with solar water heating units. Photovoltaic panels will generate electricity, as will an off-shore wind-farm. Run-off water and waste water will be recycled in a processing plant, and solid sewage waste will be treated to convert it into topsoil fertilizer.

And all of this eco-friendly high-tech is designed to not conflict with the natural aspects of the island. The buildings and structures are designed to replicate the "Seven Peaks of Azerbaijan" and as a result resemble high-tech and sculpted Egyptian pyramids. Solar panels are concealed in architecture itself. The shapes of the structures have been designed with mind modeling to optimize air-flow around the island, creating microclimates in concert with tree-planting—in high wind zones the trees are denser, stalling the air at ground level so it's more comfortable for people.

Compared to the eco-smashing excesses of the equally-futuristic artificial islands built and planned in Dubai, the intentions for Zira Island appear to really be clean and green. The master project can be seen starting February 21 in the "Yes is More" exhibition at the Danish Architecture Center.