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Web Structures aims for ‘piste perfection’ with designs for ambitious ski resort

High seismicity, strong winds and heavy snowfall are just some of the engineering challenges facing the developers of an ambitious new ski resort in Asia.

That is why Kok Zhailau Ski Resort LLC and its architects have appointed Web Structures, world experts in earthquake engineering, to help design the mountain resort in Kazakhstan.

The practice is playing a major role in the design of a series of new buildings that will form part of the proposed resort at Kok Zhailau near the country’s largest city, Almaty.

The masterplan to create the “Chamonix of Central Asia” includes a base resort with stylish hotels and apartments, 16 ski lifts and 77 marked ski runs. The project aims to attract a million skiers a year to the region.

Web Structures’ team is working on the structural design of 11 of the proposed buildings including shops, restaurants and offices as well as ski stations.

It is also drawing up plans to build a dramatic statue called The Eagle that will overlook the new resort.

Web Structures is working with acclaimed Singapore-based architects and design consultancy on the project. It has a growing reputation for designing top resorts and leisure destinations across the globe.

All the buildings are being designed to take into consideration the high seismicity of the region, its high winds and the snow load.

The seismicity in the region is one of the highest in the world and the horizontal reference peak acceleration value is 5.56 m/s2.

The structural design of the buildings also has to take into account their position, shape and altitude, with the mountain range around Kok Zhailau rising to 4,000m.

They include The Medeu Base Station – a five storey building that will host a large ski lifts base station, a large car park, a gondola park, retail area, ski school and other facilities.

A striking restaurant at the top of Great Almaty Peak will offer a spectacular view of the mountains and the resort from a long observation deck.

The two-storey Eagle Station is a ski lift directly connected with Medeu Base Station, the main entrance to the ski village, where hotels, restaurants, apartments, retail, parks and other facilities will form the heart of the resort.

The unique 100m long Eagle monument will stand on top of the station to welcome the skiers approaching the village.

Web Structures’ team has developed a complex steel frame system: three 3.5m deep trusses are spanning 45m each from wing to wing and they are supported by two concrete hollow 500mm thick walls called ‘legs’.

Before finalising the design, a wind tunnel test will be performed by the team to ensure any tendency to vibrate is suitably damped or spoiled.

Dr Hossein Rezai, group director of Web Structures, says: “The Kok Zhailau resort is an ambitious plan to create a large-scale modern ski resort with all the facilities needed to attract visitors from across the world. Its scale is massively impressive.

“The combination of earthquake, wind and snow has made the structural design of the buildings rather complex.

“Our team has been using all its experience gained in seismic areas across the world to enable to vision of the architects to become reality.

“We have carried out detailed seismic analysis as part of our in-depth work on the structural design on the proposed buildings.”

He added: “This is the first project in Kazakhstan which will be fully designed by using the Eurocode (EC) technical rules.

“In Kazakhstan the EC will replace the local standards in two years’ time and as such this is a pioneer project for the country.”

The Kok Zhailau resort is described as a “break-through” project in Kazakhstan, and is being designed using international planning and development standards with the vision to become the leader in mountain tourism development in the country and the region.

Web Structures’ expertise in working in areas of high earthquake activity has seen it work creating some of the tallest residential tower developments in cities across India, including Pune and Kolkata.


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