Concept for new high-rise building in Tallinn city centre selected by Jury at international architecture competition

  • 2024-05-09

As part of an international architecture competition, the jury selected ‘Lumière’, a joint entry by French and Estonian architects, as the concept for a new high-rise building to be built at Tartu mnt 17 in Tallinn city centre.

The competition attracted a great deal of interest, with a total of 87 architecture firms and teams from Estonia and abroad submitting their visions. Participants included a number of world-famous names. The jury shortlisted eight entries from the first round of the competition with the first prize going to the joint project ‘Lumière’ (French for ‘light’) by the agency Naço of French architect Marcelo Joulia and Estonian architecture firm Arhitektuuribüroo Eek & Mutso.

The winning design is an innovative high-rise building inspired by green thinking. It would introduce living spaces worthy of the capital to the business district in Tallinn's city centre and establish a new urban environment. The sustainable design of the building makes the most of natural resources and takes into account the local climate. The building comprises living quarters, commercial premises and public areas that can offer, for example, a café, a restaurant, an art gallery or a wellness centre. The centre of the building features a public observation deck with panoramic views of the city.

Since the thematic plan for high-rise buildings in the region permits buildings up to 130 metres in height, all the architects in the competition applied this limit to their designs. According to the winning design, the building is intended to stand 125 meters above ground. This is on par with the height of other existing and planned high-rise buildings in the Maakri neighbourhood.

The jury is happy with the result

Jury member and former head of the Estonian Association of Architects Ülar Mark said that Maakri neighbourhood in Tallinn is reserved for the construction of high-rise buildings and taller buildings might also be deemed suitable. “This must be justified in terms of function and the Tallinn city skyline. The height of the winning entry is justified. Instead of being a closed business tower, it will be open to the people of the city,” said Mark. According to the jury, the winning design is the best solution for attracting new permanent residents to the area and ensuring a dynamic environment needed for the city centre.

According to a city representative, the winning entry adds novelty to the Maakri high-rise area and helps open up the area and make it more people-friendly. “The winning entry introduces a number of enriching features to the streetscape, such as an art gallery, event space, cafés and restaurants,” said Jaak-Adam Looveer, Architect & Urban Planner at Tallinn Strategic Planning Services. “It will also add greenery to E. Viiralti Street and connect the surrounding areas by bringing the Maakri quarter, the Church of St. John's almshouse and the Police Park closer together out of isolation.”

According to Andrus Väärtnõu, chairman of the jury, the selected entry respects the design brief and the developer's vision to erect a building that honours both the urban panorama and the urban environment. “This building will most certainly become a defining landmark of the city, a quality living environment and a popular new destination for residents and visitors alike. We are very happy with the outcome of the competition: there was an extraordinary number of architects interested in the project. The concepts submitted produced a very broad spectrum of solutions, and the jury selected the best. This is the first time that our region has attracted the attention of internationally renowned architecture firms, which have expressed interest in participating in the architecture competition,” explained Väärtnõu.

The winning entry will enrich the surrounding area

The internationally acclaimed architect and designer, founder of architecture agency Naço Architectures Marcelo Joulia has designed world-famous buildings, hotels, and restaurants in cities such as Paris, Dubai, Shanghai and Buenos Aires. According to Joulia, founder of the agency, the new building will complement Tallinn’s skyline and connect nature with urban life. “The design of ‘Lumière’ is based on two pillars: the environment and innovation, reflecting our commitment to a more sustainable way of life,” he said. The architect describes the building as being distinguishable by its streamlined form, inspired by the rounded shapes seen in the city’s architecture and the towers of the remaining wall surrounding Tallinn Old Town. The building will have a light exterior, taking its cue from Estonian nature, the northern lights, reflections from the sea and snow. “As the name suggests, this high-rise will illuminate the city’s panorama and will brighten up people's daily lives,” Marcelo Joulia concluded.

“We try to incorporate that special something into every project to set it apart from precious work,” said Madis Eek, co-author of the winning entry and founder and architect at architecture firm Arhitektuuribüroo Eek & Mutso. According to Eek, participating in an architectural design competition for a high-rise building in cooperation with international architects was particularly noteworthy for the Estonian firm. “We’re familiar with the location because on the other side of the street is the first building our architecture firm ever designed - the Tornimäe building, completed in 1998.”

The winner of the competition was selected by a jury of eminent architects. The jury consisted of Ülar Mark, Risto Parve and Siiri Vallner from the Estonian Association of Architects and architect Jaak-Adam Looveer from Tallinn Strategic Management Office. The jury also included Andrus Väärtnõu, Urmas Past and Hannes Roosaar on behalf of the client.

The second prize was awarded to a joint project between the internationally renowned architecture firm Gensler and the Estonian firm Arhitekt 11. The third prize went to ‘Heaven 17’, a joint project by Estonian and international architecture firms Alver Arhitektid and Studio Woodroffe Papa in collaboration with Whitby Wood, XCO2 and Studio Weave.

The area is being developed in cooperation with Elon OÜ and OÜ Viis Veeringut.