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Competition: Rail Baltica terminal, Tallinn

An open international contest has been announced for a major new rail terminal in the Ülemiste area of Tallinn, Estonia (Deadline: 1 August)

The competition seeks zero-energy and pedestrian-friendly proposals to transform an existing station into a new terminal for Europe’s £3 billion Rail Baltica programme which will create a direct train link between Warsaw and Tallinn by 2026.

The project will create a new integrated 10 hectare hub hosting international, national and local rail services along with trams, buses and coaches close to Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport. Three winners will receive cash prizes and be invited to negotiate for the design contract with project sponsor Rail Baltic Estonia.

Ülemiste station in Tallinn, Estonia

Ülemiste station in Tallinn, Estonia

Source: Image by Dmitry G

Ülemiste station in Tallinn, Estonia

Rail Baltic Estonia chief executive Riia Sillave said: ‘The keywords of the future terminal building are performance, comfort and modernity. The traveler needs to find the necessary connections as well as everything else, and the waiting area could be as modern, safe and cozy.

‘As a selection criterion, we also appreciate the efficient interconnection of different modes of transport and the interconnection of urban space for pedestrians and light traffic users. Ambitious expectations and a limited area make the task an exciting challenge. We hope to get a lot of good ideas and solutions from an international design competition.’

Overlooking the Gulf of Finland, Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. Recent design contests in the settlement include the Port of Tallinn masterplan won by Zaha Hadid Architects in 2017 and the Museum of Red Terror won by Japanese architect Shuhei Endo in 2018.

The Rail Baltica project will create a £3 billion European standard gauge network replacing existing Russian gauge tracks connecting the three Baltic states on the edge of Europe. The continuous 950km route will be fully electrified and is scheduled to complete in 2026.

Contest site: Ülemiste station in Tallinn, Estonia

Contest site: Ülemiste station in Tallinn, Estonia

Contest site: Ülemiste station in Tallinn, Estonia

Danish practices PLH Arkitekter and COWI won an earlier contest held in 2016 to overhaul and expand the main railway station in Riga, Latvia so it can host Rail Baltica services.

The latest competition focuses on transforming Tallinn’s small Ülemiste station into a major new terminal for Rail Baltica services while also integrating existing rail, tram and bus services in the area.

The overall winner will receive €28,000 while a second prize of €21,000, third prize of €14,000, and two bonuses worth €7,000 each will also be awarded.

How to apply


The deadline for applications has been extended from 1 August to 3 September.

Contact details

Vaiko Eggert
Rail Baltic Estonia
Endla Street 16

Tel: +372 53412614

View the contract notice for more information

Q&A with Anvar Salomets

Rail Baltic Estonia’s chief technical officer discusses his ambitions for the project

Anvar Salomets

Anvar Salomets

Anvar Salomets

Why are your holding an international competition for a new Rail Baltica terminal in Tallinn?

As the RB Ülemiste terminal and surrounding area is the most important point on the whole Rail Balitca corridor, it is reasonable to have an architectural design contest held to connect both its functionalities and spatial needs. The terminal is foreseen as a new multimodal passenger hub for that particular area, thus there is utmost need for both well-planned connectivity and attractive design. I would think going ahead with an architectural competition is the only way to secure a great result – both in terms of design and functionality of the terminal.

What is your vision for the future rail terminal?

The objective of the architectural competition is to select the most attractive and pedestrian-friendly architectural solution for the urban space described above, which best suits its intended purpose. The new construction work shall be architecturally advanced and suitable for the location with regard to urban development. The competition site is approximately 10 hectares. The solution shall be built at optimum cost and be convenient, functional and energy efficient for the end user. Our vision is to create something that lasts and gives new value to general public and the area where the terminal is built.

Ülemiste image by bjoertvedt

Ülemiste image by bjoertvedt

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

All architects are warmly welcome because the qualification criterias are set so that a wide range of architects can participate. Our intention is to get as many different ideas as possible, thus principally every architect could give his/her say to the project. Mostly our collaboration models include working with local partners on the next stage, for example during the design phase local engineering companies must be used.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

With regards the Rail Baltica project no other large scale design competitions are foreseen in the future, so this really is a historical opportunity to get involved.

Are there any other recent rail terminal projects you have been impressed by?

Of course there are plenty of spectacular railway terminals around the world and we do hope RB Ülemiste terminal is going to be up to the same standards. There has also been an architectural contest for RB Pärnu and Riga international passenger terminals, which had a good level of architectural quality.

Rail Baltica

Rail Baltica

Rail Baltica