Location: Tallinn, Estonia
Program: Urban Design
Project team: Alver Architects (Andres Alver, Tarmo Laht, Ulla Mets, Sven Koppel, Indrek Rünkla)
Lasnamäe has a notorious reputation. Built between 1970-90s, it is Tallinn’s most populous district, mostly represented by 5–16 stories-high apartment blocks, built using exclusively precast concrete panels. It is seen as one of the least attractive dwelling areas, is somewhat removed from the city center and looks like a smaller version of Shanghai’s housing projects.
This reputation – and its improvement through the toolbox of architecture – was the focus of the Union of Estonian Architects annual exhibition in year 2012. For this, a number of Estonian offices were selected to present their visions of how the current situation can be improved.
Alver Architects submission focused on the sparsely used areas falling between the apartment blocks, and provided a number of scenarios for their reorganization, refurbishment or – at least – embellishment. With its vast and undefined open spaces, Lasnamäe can be seen as a plain canvas. Adding unique interventions within urban blocks would add diversity (functionally, spatially and environmentally), improve navigability, as well as help the area regain human scale. From a blanket of homogeneous residential buildup, a patchwork of environments with distinct identities will arise, containing an internal lake in one place, a forest in another, or an entertainment center in the third.