Perfect curves for the world’s first completely spherical building

Nur Alem, Astana (KZ)

The Kazakhstan Pavilion and Science Museum, known as Nur Alem, was originally the iconic sphere at the centre of Expo 2017 Astana. With a diameter of 80m and height of 100m, it remains the largest spherical building in the world. It was designed by American architect duo Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill.

Behind this apparently simplistic design lies a challenging process of creation. The building requires perfect glass curves, optimal light transmission and at the same time solar protection. To create a perfect glass sphere, sunglass industry was involved in the early planning process. 

sunglass industry supplied 4,600 curved panes with three layers of silver coating, two-colour screen printing and various inserts. The insulating glass units achieve a U value of 1.1 W/(m²K). The panes feature a unique shape that curves in both directions, thus avoiding angles and light refraction. Each of the dual-laminated insulated glass panes was produced for its specific installation location and fixed with toggles. In total, the sphere contains 35,000sqm of curved glass. 

  • Glass type / ShapeInsulating glass / double-curvature
  • Glass make-upDGU, 2 plies of 16 mm, laminated, triple silver coated
  • Quantity / Total area4,600 pcs / 35,000 sqm
  • Max. size3 x 6 m
  • SpecialityPerfect curves