Young architects’ idea: a tramway to Pärnu’s future city

In a four-day workshop held in Pärnu, young architects searched for future visions for the new district, which is planned to be built on the banks of the Pärnu River. The winner was the idea of a socially sustainable city that offers affordable housing for different people and connects the new part of the city with the old one via a tramway.

The Association of Estonian Architects, the company Clever Cities Group and the Pärnu City Government in June the 14.-17. organised the “Sustainable City” workshop for young architects, looking for innovative ideas for a new city district. Clever Cities Group plans to build a modern district on the wasteland of Suur-Jõe Street on the banks of the Pärnu River, with a size of 10 hectares and an estimated population of 1,600 people. The task of the young architects was to plan a vision for the new district, which will be the basis for the public architecture competition’s initial task.

“Estonian architects started talking about the green turn already 15 years ago. We were not listened to then, but now it has become a reality. As architects and urban planners, we can once again tell right now what the next bigger problem affecting the entire society will turn out to be. It is all about housing and the results of not dealing with it,” said Andro Mänd, president of the Estonian Association of Architects.

A total of 27 young architects and architecture students from Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Ukraine, Romania, Hungary and Turkey participated in the brainstorming. The jury was presented with seven designs for evaluation, which were all forward-looking visions with a strong sustainable orientation.

The young architects encouraged to use materials found on wasteland and construction waste in the building process, offered ideas for rainwater harvesting and community gardening, and solutions on how to turn wind and solar energy to the benefit of the town. Natural and cultural diversity and social sustainability were considered. That’s what brought victory to the team, which included young architects Mark Aleksander Fischer, Siim Tanel Tõnisson and Ra Martin Puhkan, graduates of the Estonian Academy of Arts, and Askim Naz Yildiz from Aalto University. 

“The winning team dealt with this very topic, drawing attention to the important fact that we cannot build a monofunctional district that is aimed only at one specific social group. Considering the viability of the district, it is important that there is affordable housing for, for example, police officers, teachers and hospital nurses. Awarding this work shows that Clever Cities Group is not a classic Estonian developer. I hope that as much of the ideas generated in the workshop as possible will be realised,” commented Andro Mänd.

According to the authors, the project “Clever Cities Connects” puts the focus of the new TechCity to be deeply connected to the existing city and aims to be the first socially sustainable new development in Estonia. The masterplan sees itself as a link between the old town and the new railway hub through a new tram connection on Riia street. The main anchor points of this development will be a new culture hub in the vicinity of the old boiler house complex and a dense tech city district incorporated with the existing industries on the eastern side of the plot. To make this development socially sustainable the authors aim to include public housing and cooperative based housing models to provide a place for people of Pärnu and give a housing-based solution to forming a strong sense of community.

The work “Adventure Bay”, whose concept focused on cultural diversity and a creative urban environment that brings together people from different backgrounds, also earned an honourable mention from the jury. “By integrating sustainable design principles, outdoor-oriented public spaces, interactive exhibition spaces, and waterfront amenities, this idea provides a platform for the local community to reconnect with their roots while creating a unique destination for visitors to experience and appreciate the cultural significance of fishing,” described the authors of the design, which received special praise from the jury, Valerii Krinberg (Estonian Academy of Arts), Evelīna Tetere (Riga University of Technology), Alina Oncica (Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urban Planning) and Aleyna Canpolat (Estonian Academy of Arts)

The jury included Andro Mänd, president of the Estonian Association of Architects; mentors Indrek Allmann, Jaan Jagomägi, Sirkku Huisko and Oskars Vāvere; Pärnu Mayor Romek Kosenkranius, Pärnu’s former city architect Karri Tiigisoon and Clever Cities Group representatives Thomas Abraham and Marten Palu.

The organisation of the workshop was supported by Clever Cities Group, Estonian Ministry of Culture, Ruukki, Equitone and Pärnu City Government.

See all the 7 projects

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Posted by Tiina Tammet