High Speed Island



Baku, Azerbaijan

Designed for
Columbia University GSAPP: Dochantschi Studio

In Collaboration with
Juan Pablo Azares


Once home to caravanserai on the historical Silk Road, Azerbaijan’s identity has always been linked to its role as a connector between East and West. Today that role, and thus that identity, has diminished. Even to connect with its biggest trading partners in Turkey, Germany, and China, it relies on a convoluted system of slow railways.

High Speed Island addresses this inefficiency in the movement of goods by proposing that the nations bordering the Caspian Sea collaborate to create a new transportation hub, situated in a tax-free zone in the middle of the Sea.

By opening new gateways for the region, this economic platform would support the exchange and synthesis of goods, ideas, and people rather than only extraction of natural resources. The project aims to be a catalyst for production in the region by facilitating cross-border flows of people, goods, capital, and information between east and west.

Regional view of the island in the Caspian Sea connected to Baku by high-speed train tunnel and to Turkmenbashi by bridge.

Tunnel entry point in Baku, with another checkpoint near the airport


Bridge landing point in Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan

Existing shipping traffic across the sea can proceed as usual.
Phase 1
Phase 2
Phase 3

Baku’s strategic advantage

Trade partners
Oil exports
Oil fields claimed by each country