Does urban renewal signify progress? That question has dogged city planners worldwide for decades. And nowhere is the matter more pertinent these days than in Baku, the Caspian seaside capital of Azerbaijan.
Thanks to a massive cash infusion generated by energy exports, Baku has experienced a building boom over the past decade. Amid the makeover, scores of buildings with distinctive architectural attributes, some of them registered with UNESCO as having historical value, have fallen victim to the wrecking ball.
With international attention now focusing on Baku, which will host the Eurovision song contest finals from May 22-26, authorities are hoping the new construction will help project an appealing image of Azerbaijan to the outside world. At the same time, advocates of preservation are intensifying efforts to call attention to what they consider to be architectural crimes.
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Khadija Ismayilova and Ulviyya Asadzade a freelance reporters based in Baku. Amanda Rivkin is currently working on a Fulbright photography project documenting the role of women in Azerbaijan.