Case Studies

Nur-Sultan Masterplan 2030


Project Director
Ed Parham

Expedition Engineering
Gustafson Porter + Boman
MiC | Mobility in Chain

City of Nur-Sultan

Deploying a unique, ‘data-driven design’ approach, Space Syntax has led an international team of consultants to improve, intensify & grow the capital city of Kazakhstan.

Project objectives

Having won an international design competition in 2018, Space Syntax led an international, multi-disciplinary design team to apply a unique, outcomes-focused and evidence-based approach to the creation of a masterplan for the development of Nur-Sultan, the capital city of KazakhstanThe design process involved the use of Space Syntax Integrated Urban Models to address a series of key questions: 

– what should Nur-Sultan be like in 2030 in terms of Liveability, Sustainability and Health objectives? 

– what is it like now? 

– how should its physical and spatial infrastructure change to meet these objectives?  

– how are these changes likely to work?

The 2030 masterplan 

The masterplan creates a comprehensive set of proposals for the physical development of the city, enabling it to deliver a future vision, shaped by local stakeholders, of becoming a liveable, sustainable and healthy city. The proposals cover three scalescity-wide strategies, opportunity area masterplans and local, tactical interventions. 

City-wide strategies use forecasts of population and employment growth to improve and intensify the city in key areas before extending it.

In considering how to accommodate growth, a series of Opportunity Area Masterplans were developed. Detailed proposals for these areas were created with the intention that they also provide the opportunity to introduce new models of development into the city, including private-led redevelopment, public-private regeneration, and public-led improvement.

A series of local, tactical interventions were proposed across the city. To help the city to efficiently deliver these, Space Syntax created a bespoke GIS Plugin, allowing city users to access advanced analytic tools, to ultimately deploy improvements at scale across the city.

Masterplan outcomes 

The 2030 masterplan demonstrates how the three key objectives can be delivered through a targeted set of development proposals, with scenario modelling showing that: 

– liveability is improved by enabling 20% more residents to walk to key services such as education and health facilities, by activating parks and the public realm as a series of vibrant social spaces, and by using urban form and massing to create a sheltered and comfortable environment at street level.

 – sustainability is improved through the development of policy roadmaps that enable the city to reach its emission and re-cycling rates, and through the application of technologies such as renewable energy generation and SUDS to opportunity areas.

– the city creates the conditions to enable healthy lifestyle by supporting daily activity, reducing average car-dependence by 10%, with some parts of the city now offering access to equal amounts of employment by active and public transport as by car. 

The Nur-Sultan 2030 Masterplan draws on over 30 years of Space Syntax’s urban planning and design experience worldwide, incorporating principles of spatial planning and design that have been demonstrated through practice to deliver the liveable, sustainable and healthy outcomes of the project brief. 

“This is comprehensive, aspirational and far-thinking.”

MIPIM/The Architectural Review
Judges’ comments

Innovative process 

Advanced analysis was used to identify spatial conditions associated with these outcomes in cities around the world, and then to translate these findings into a set of design principles. Digital and parametric design processes were used to translate these principles into spatial propositions which were continually analysed and refined. 


Capital of Kazakhstan since 1994, Nur-Sultan has a population of around 1m people, forecast to increase by 60% by 2030. The city is located in the centre of Kazakstan and experiences an extreme climate with temperatures ranging from -30◦c in winter to +30◦c in summer. 

Project team  

Space Syntax
Expedition Engineering
Gustafson Porter + Bowman
MiC | Mobility in Chain

Space Syntax team 

Ed Parham
Oscar McDonald
Abhimanyu Acharya
Jose Luis Krug
Alexandra Wilmot
Eduardo Rico
Meruyert Beisenbiba
Ioanna Kolovou 

Further information

Space Syntax Studio page
Details of our work leading the planning & design of buildings & urban areas.