Project in Detail
Tallinn Town Hall
Bjarke Ingels Group, Denmark, Denmark
Allianss Arhitektid OÜ, Estonia
World Architecture Festival 2011 - Category Commendation
Tallinn Town Hall view from the Public Square
Tallinn Town Hall
The site of the new Tallinn Town Hall is situated to the north of the medieval city centre on the edge of the green ring close to the waterfront. It is located between the newly renovated Kultuurikatel and the Linnahall monument where parking and a gas station is currently located.
The goal is to create a new urban typology that combines the human scale and intimate experience of the medieval townscape, with the public space and municipal symbolism of the modern extension. The New Town Hall will be an open and permeable public institution, extending both town centre and the green ring all the way to the water’s edge.
The building will be created of a village of ten individual departments and two for common space and meeting rooms. Each department is accom¬modated in its own dedicated office building. A thirteenth building, the tower, hosts the City Government, the City Council and the Council Hall on the top floor. The departments are grouped together to meet the programmatic requirements of adjacencies. The departments are consolidated in a village-like cluster, allowing them to perform as a single open office structure as well as ten independent departments. The departments are hinged on the corners and rotated to leave courtyards for daylight and views between them. The many generous openings also provide views to the public ground floor below as well as the sky above. The departments have large windows providing panoramic views in all directions.
The network organization and the many generous openings internally and externally create an office structure with ideal circulation and compact¬ness, abundant daylight, intuitive internal orientation and close relationships with the surrounding urban scenery. The composite organization of the administrative village provides it with the intimate niches and unexpected spatial experiences familiar from the Old Town of Tallinn. At the same time the compact floor plate and even distribution of daylight and views makes it an ideal modern working place.
The Public Ground Floor
The goal is to turn the entire site of the new Tallinn Town Hall into one big open public square connecting all the adjoining urban situations; the Lin¬nahall, Kultuurikatel, the Green Ring, the medieval town and the modern developments.
The public square -half outside, half inside - will contain the municipal restaurant, conference hall, exhibitions and all the citizen services as well as informal meeting places in the lounge or under open sky.
All the administrative functions are raised above the square allowing the public space to extend freely below the public offices. Generous courtyards and light wells allow abundant daylight to filter through the offices above, bathing the public interior in natural daylight.
In order to deal with the change in elevation across the site (+2 meters) the ground floor facets, has been tilted into a gentle slope in various direc¬tions and with an angle no more than 1:35. This principle of tilting certain areas of the ground floor is furthermore used to create non sloping areas where the restaurant is located and a steeper slope for the conference hall.
The canopy of administrative functions offers varying degrees of protection from the elements. In winter the warm interior will be the main public space protected from the cold, in autumn and spring the generous overhangs provide cover from the rain or shelter from the wind, and in summer the plazas and stepped slopes serve as perfect places for informal gatherings and public life.
The indoor part of the public square accommodates all the citizen services in a form of public ground floor where citizens can come and meet the public servants face to face in a centrally located counter surrounded by more or less intimate meeting areas for a range of city/citizen interface and exchanges.
If a citizen has a meeting in one of the public departments above, they simply go to the counter of the respective department and get accompanied to the office of their public official. A general information counter is located under one of the many skylights close to the main entrance of the ground floor. From here a grand stair ascends through one of the many light wells to the City Government, the City Council, the City Hall, the public roof terrace and the viewing platform inside the Town Hall spire.
Council Hall and Mirror
The Council Hall of the building is located on the 5th floor with views in the direction of the modern Tallinn skyline.
The sloping ceiling of the Council Hall is finished in a large reflective material. The mirror ceiling transforms the tower into a huge democratic peri¬scope allowing literal transparency between politicians and the public. Towards the medieval city, a round clock opening is cut through the façade allowing for a framed view of the St. Olav Church and the historic Town Hall through the reflection in the mirror.
In ancient times the town hall would have a vaulted ceiling decorated with a sky or frescos of the land and territories under the ruler’s government. In the new town hall of Tallinn the ceiling will be a real (reflected) overview of the city – both old and new. Whenever a politician raises his/her glance, he/she will be met with the view of Tallinn’s townscape.
In reverse, the citizens, rallying protesters or simply people passing by, will look towards the tower, and within it get an insight into the political work. The circular formation of council members will be reflected in the tilted ceiling, and give the surrounding citizens a sense of assurance that the democracy is busy working for them.
On the backside of the mirror a narrow staircase ascends through the structure holding the mirror in place. Press and visitors can from the different landings follow the political process seen through the one-way viewing mirror. Continuing further the visitor gradually moves towards the top of the spire where he/she constantly is presented with new and dramatic view of the surrounding city.
Bjarke Ingels Group
Allianss Arhitektid OÜ
Client / Developer
City Planning Office, City of Tallin
Adams Kara Taylor