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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tallinn City Hall, Tallinn, Estonia

The city celebrates it's new administrative core
Following an international idea contest with 81 participants, Bjarke Ingels Group of Denmark together with Adams Kara Taylor of the UK have been announced as architects for Tallinn’s new City Hall in Estonia. The international idea contest was jointly organized by the City Planning Department and the Union of Estonian Architects. From a shortlist of 9, the team was unanimously chosen by an international jury to design the 35,000 sq m plot near the Linnahall building.

Bjarke Ingels, Parter-in-charge at BIG said: "There is a saying that success has many fathers. That is especially true when designing such a crucial public building and public space as a town hall. The design needs to be shaped by input from neighbours and users, citizens and politicians. Paradoxically we architects often find ourselves isolated from this crucial dialogue at the moment of conception, due to the anonymity of the architectural competition. Since this was a 2 stage competition, we already had our first feedback from the jury – causing us to dramatically rearrange our design to fit the citizens’ needs. As a result we have envisioned a very elastic structure – capable of adapting to unexpected demands. We see it as the first conversation in a design dialogue we look forward to continue."

In an effort to echo the transparency of good governance and participatory democracy, the design for the new town hall of Tallinn will provide this two way transparency in a very literal way. The various public departments form a porous canopy above the public service market place allowing both daylight and view to permeate the structure. The public servants won’t be some remote administrators taking decisions behind thick walls, but will be visible in their daily work from all over the market place via the light wells and courtyards. In reverse the public servants will be able to look out and into the market place’s making sure that the city and its citizens are never out of sight nor mind. Similarly the City Council, which will be in the heart of the development, will offer transparency through reflection created by a mirrored ceiling revealing the actions from within via a large window facing the city.

Hanif Kara of Adams Kara Taylor said: "The structural concept reflects the simplicity of the architectural intent; a grouping of “easily assembled individual Frames” that through vierendeel frames free the connection of the city at ground level whilst simultaneously act as a “group” to resist lateral loads. The result is an economic ,fast build adaptable solution."

While the architects and the city celebrate this appointment, it is not without regard for the current economic situation. The mayor of Tallinn, Edgar Savisaar stated that it is his hope that the new building will be built sooner or later, despite the hard times in the European economy.
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