Gabala Case Study


The Issue

Need for a City Plan

Set in the foothills of northern oil and gas-rich Azerbaijan, the small ancient city of Gabala has grown rapidly since independence from the Soviet Union, but with little to no strategic plan.

State-of-the-art food and drink processing factories for the productive agricultural area, sports and leisure facilities including a theme park, a football academy and Olympic shooting facilities, prestigious housing developments, an international conference centre, five star hotels and a ski resort – inspired by Gabala’s alpine scenery and within easy reach of the capital Baku – were springing up chaotically. Even a new international airport and town centre … but with almost no flights available or shops, amenities or public realm normally expected of a growing urban area, not to mention an emerging tourist destination.

The city clearly needed a coordinated strategic plan.

Furthermore, Gabala lacks the skills and labour required to sustain its economic growth and Azerbaijan is working hard to diversify its economy to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

The Solution

Bringing Clarity of Purpose and Setting Priorities

Our client and other stakeholders in Gabala agreed they wanted to improve the city. But much of the development taking place was in fact contributing to Gabala’s problems. A lack of priorities and clear planning would not allow the utility companies, for example, to coordinate their growth in the city.

The Concerto team worked with the stakeholder groups to develop a vision for the city that took into account best practice in other alpine cities around the world, addressed the regional and national economic needs, and evaluated resources required to promote such growth, including rational development.

Most of all, we advised the group on a process for making development decisions using an evidence-based approach, and they now have a process for setting out priorities.

The Outcome

Work in Progress

Gabala continues to grow. Our client now refers to the vision we helped develop and is following up on our recommendations. For example, the city is now progressing with the development of secondary and tertiary education facilities to meet the needs of the local economy.

The process of developing an integrated plan for the city is emerging, as is the strategy to develop a town centre that meets the needs of locals and visitors alike.

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