Light-filled gallery style shopping and business centre in the heart of Tallinn

Tallinn, Estonia
Client: Rävala Kaheksa
Commission: 2012
Size: 70,000 m2
Collaboration: Benoy (London) and Rstudio for architecture (Sweden)

In the heart of Tallinn, in the centre of its business and commercial life, between the historic Old Town, the high rise buildings of the CBD and large shopping centres, stands a rather unattractive city block, a clutter of commercial spaces, houses and offices. The Second World War devastated the block and most of the current buildings are from the 1960s and 1980s. One of the buildings from the Stalinist period has been stripped of its original decoration and the office spaces are no longer compatible with contemporary regulations governing the efficient use of energy and space.

The new architectural design covers an area of 1.5 ha and many of the buildings will be restored. In addition to that the design envisions a gallery type shopping centre with an underground parking lot, making the traffic in the area more people friendly. On one side, the roof covered internal street opens to a park not far from the Old Town, and on the other side, to the contemporary city; also, both directions provide great views to the inside of the gallery as well. Visitor traffic is directed to the first floor, while the second and third floors are designated as commercial spaces. In Estonia this design is exceptional as so far there are not many shopping centres higher than two storeys. In addition to shops, the upper floors of the shopping centre accommodate restaurants and cafés with terraces that look onto the park and the Old Town. The gallery street with its light filled atrium creates new trajectories and destinations both for locals and tourists.