Wiedemanni School Gym

Location: Haapsalu, Estonia

Year: 2001

Status: Completed

Size: 2,670 m²

Program: Educational

Project team: Alver Architects (Andres Alver, Tiit Trummal, Tarmo Laht, Ulla Mets, Sven Koppel)

Credits: Photography – Kaido Haagen, Alver Architects


The gym for Haapsalu gymnasium is located in the old part of Haapsalu, a seaside resort town with 12,000 inhabitants.

This human scale small Estonian town with nostalgic atmosphere where suburban wooden houses give warmth and gardens are full of apple trees and gooseberry bushes, and the promenade glamour fades away even near the newly renovated Kursaal, needed a denser, more multilayered polyphonic urban space with more complicated fabric and texture, an urban space that would not be boring in a modernist way or minimalist-refined way, but would give new life to a provincial street when touching it.

The building is situated in an abandoned courtyard, fitting into the surroundings without being too harmful for the already complex environment but still with an intention of adding a new layer of fresh urban activity with a its spatial qualities.

The building structure follows the needs of a big hall. The volume – too big for the context – is slightly turned to create different extension spaces for the street and some ‘folded’ surfaces to avoid static centrality. The space around the building has different characters that enable the merging of city and the new alien structure.

Some parts of the building (including a part of the roof) are covered with wood that mirrors the existing old wooden houses.

The program of the building consists of the rooms needed for a school gym. A partly underground gallery is connecting the new building with the old schoolhouse. Schoolyard has got an open-air playground for basketball and an open-air classroom surrounding old and symbolic oak tree.

The main structure of the building is made up of two outside rows of cast on site concrete columns that hold up the roof and four rows of columns that support floor slab. Roof is covered with precast prestreched concrete panels.

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