An ancient city whose origins date back to the first century, Baku was chosen as the capital of the Shirvan Reign during the twelfth century, thus becoming one of the largest urban centers in the Caucasus region and attracting the expansionist aims of both the Persian and the Russian Empires. After several changes of hand, it was the latter who finally conquered it in 1813. A few years later, in 1849, the first modern oil well was set up in the city's outskirts and the industrial production of oil began. The oil started being distributed from here to the rest of the Russian Empire first, to the Soviet Union later and to the rest of Europe nowadays. It was at this time that Baku became one of the largest oil centers of the planet, attracting scientists, industrialists and architects from various countries, as for example the Nobel brothers. The three oil boom that the city has lived along the past three centuries have changed both its appearance, its social balances and its historical and political perspectives. Built in 1947 a few kilometers off the coast of Baku, Neft Daşları has been the first offshore oil drilling platform in the world. Over the years it has become a huge city in the middle of the sea, with more than 5000 inhabitants and 200km of roads built on pillars in the middle of the Caspian Sea. In this interview, the architect Pirouz Khanlou talks about the different phases of this history and explains the contemporary Baku, its most recent development and the challenges that it has to faces in its restless growth.

Interview with Pirouz Khanlou

Crossing the Caspian Sea