BIG wins International Competition to design Tallinn's new City Hall (EE)

An international idea contest was held for Tallinn's new City Hall in Estonia and the best concept was presented by the Bjarke Ingels Group from Denmark together with Adams Kara Taylor of the UK. The purpose of the international idea contest was to find the best architectural solution for the new administrative building of the city government that will be situated on a 35,000 m² plot near the Linnahall building.


BIG's winning design for Tallinn's new city hall.

The contest for the new city was met with a great interest, 81 architects and their teams were willing to present an entry. Of those, the international jury chose the best 9 to shortlist as finalists into the second phase of the competition. By May 15 the finalists handed in their final solutions. The international jury's decision to award BIG's entry first place in the competition was unanimous and was presided by the vice mayor Taavi Aas.

Bjarke Ingels, BIG, Partner-in-Charge: "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."

Public Insight + Political Overview
Good governance and participatory democracy is dependent on transparency in both directions. It requires adequate political overview of the problems, demands and desires of the public, as well as public insight into the political processes. 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. From outside the panoramic windows allow the citizens to see their city at work. 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.

Jakob Lange, BIG, Project Leader: "The Town hall is not only surrounded by public space - but literally invaded by the citizens in the form of the public service market place beneath the canopy of the public offices, where the citizens of Tallinn can meet their public servants."

Democratic Tower
The City Council, the heart of the democratic process, is located in the town hall tower visible from the park, the plaza and the podium of the Linnen Hall. The roof of the tower

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