I feel the earth move

So we’re moving. But not back to America. Not even out of Kazakhstan. Nope—we’re moving just 300 meters down the street, all in the name of earthquake safety.

Framed by soaring, craggy mountains, and built on loamy soil, Almaty is next in line for an earthquake of catastrophic proportion. (Those mountains are so dramatic and so pretty because they sit directly on top of the Talas Fergana Fault.) So we’re moving to an apartment just down the street because it’s safer than the one we’ve been living in.

Needless to say, all this talk of earthquakes and new apartments (and, well, buildings falling down…shudder…) has me focused lately on Almaty’s structural landscape. I eye construction sites, counting the rebar in poured concrete buildings or shaking my head at a new building with a poorly hung tile façade. I suck air through gritted teeth when I notice an attempt at cost-savings: there is grout on only the tops and bottoms of those cinder blocks…

Meanwhile, all of this looking at architecture has inspired me to photograph it, too. Almaty’s structures have a distinctly crumbling, Soviet look to them; perfectly photogenic in black and white winter scenes, or in colored shots, the buildings standing stark against the coming spring. Some of them will withstand the force of “the big one.” Many of them will not.






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