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Competition: Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2019

The Tallinn Architecture Biennale is holding an ideas contest for a major mixed-use urban regeneration (Deadline: 16 January)

Open to architects and students of architecture, the anonymous competition seeks radical proposals for a new neighbourhood of ‘shared and private habitats to live and work in’ within the Kalamaja district of the Estonian capital.

The call for concepts focuses on the east side of Kopli Street which borders a large area of railway lands earmarked to become a major new extension to the Baltic coast city. Proposals should respond to the biennale’s theme and include interior and outdoor spaces for residents to ‘learn, play and grow’.

Kalamaja, Tallinn

Kalamaja, Tallinn

Kalamaja, Tallinn

According to the brief: ‘The aspiration is for the innovative design of dynamic and beautiful architecture where digital gains are augmented by human judgment and cognitive intuition. A goal is to consider the shared eco-system, enhancing relationships between people, flora and fauna, exploring the relationship between the organic and inorganic and considering indoors as outdoors.

‘We seek a widening of the palette of emotional involvement and the creation of new architectures informed by contemporary, diverse experiences of beauty, which encompass the requirements of ecology and society, as with all good architecture such parameters cannot be compromised. Whilst not compulsory, we are excited by the possibilities of collaborative design and encourage entries by teams that include members from different practices working together.’

Kopli Street runs through Kalamaja – an industrial and residential district dominated by a large area of railway lands. The neighbourhood overlooks the Baltic Sea and is located around 2.3km west of the Port of Tallinn which is earmarked for a competition-winning redevelopment by Zaha Hadid Architects.

The competition focuses on a large site stretching from Kalamaja to Pelgulinna bordered by the railway lands and various low-rise timber houses. The site is currently occupied by several industrial sheds and features a tram line on its northern perimeter.

Contest site in Kalamaja, Tallinn

Contest site in Kalamaja, Tallinn

Contest site in Kalamaja, Tallinn

Submissions should provide a new mixed-use district for the area, which has become popular with young residents and emerging businesses in recent years. Applications must be in English and include an A1-sized board with three images and up to 300 words of description.

Judges include TAB 2019 head curator Yael Reisner, Kjetil Trædal Thorsen of Snøhetta, Tallinn chief architect Endrik Mänd, and Margit Mutso of local practice Eek & Mutso Architects.

The overall winner, to be announced at the end of January, will receive a €4,000 prize while a second prize of €2,000, third prize of €1,000 and five honourable mentions will also be awarded. All entries will be publicly exhibited during TAB 2019.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 16 January

How to apply

Email: vision@tab.ee

Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with Yael Reisner

The head curator of the 2019 Tallinn Architecture Biennale discusses her ambitions for the competition

Yael Reisner

Yael Reisner

Yael Reisner

Why are your holding an international contest for a new living and working district in Kopli, Kalamaja and what sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

There is a tradition in the TABs where the head curator brings a theme to the Biennale, as well as also a topic and a site-specific brief for a vision competition, to the city of Tallinn, and selects a well-known architect from the international scene to be the head of the jury. I Think vision competitions are popular among unknown architects who believe in themselves, and ambitious to come up with fresh ideas and progressive design. I believe the system of a jury judging a submitted range of projects is the best way to find new talents, fresh thinking, and progressive proposals, but it’s also a system that supports promising architects who aspire to create good architecture, by not only publishing them through an exhibition and symposium, but by rewarding them with good prizes as well. It’s great to have international competitions, as often certain countries have a deeper architectural culture, others have better schools, or in time of frozen economy in some places, competitions as such create opportunities for keen and ambitious architects to flourish elsewhere.

What is your vision for this new part of Tallinn?

We have chosen a relatively small site in Tallinn, along Kopli street, in Kalamaja, 400 metres-long, by 50 metres wide, which is just large enough to create a sense of neighbourhood, but small enough to allow attention to specifics. It’s an area whose population is particularly young and culturally both local and global, hence I hope this duality will transpire through the competition’s proposals. Keeping in mind the local inhabitants around the site, whose interest is in alternative styles of life, proposals should avoid the global phenomenon of standard ‘developer’ housing.

Kopli Street, Tallinn

Kopli Street, Tallinn

Kopli Street, Tallinn

The task is to design and propose shared and private habitats for a section of Kopli street in Tallinn. These should consider all aspects of living and be suitable for a wide range of ages. A goal is to consider the shared ecosystem, enhancing relationships between people, flora and fauna, exploring the relationship between the organic and inorganic and considering indoors as outdoors. An innovative design of dynamic and beautiful architecture should be the aspiration, creating hybrids of digital and analogue and augmenting digital gain with human discrimination.

I expect competitors to explore freshly the wholesomeness of architecture today, ecologically, socially, and structurally, since in good architecture, unlike research, parameters cannot be reduced. Proposals should bring new meanings into the urban context, remembering that any progressive design fails without beauty.

Are there any other recent urban regeneration projects you have been impressed by?

I enjoyed the regeneration projects designed by the late Will Alsop (as part of aLL Design), and particularly the masterplan proposals for Barnsley (in 2020), and Croydon (in 2007), which were great ideas, aesthetically attractive, while designed ethically, with great care for their potential inhabitants. Sadly the UK is architecturally, rather conservative, and these proposals, as many others, were perceived as too daring.

Croydon masterplan 2007 by Will Alsop

Croydon masterplan 2007 by Will Alsop

Croydon masterplan 2007 by Will Alsop