A transparent office building in the centre of Viljandi

Location: Viljandi, Estonia
Client: Kerri C&M OÜ, Sakala Kirjastuse AS
Commission: 2004
Completed: 2006
Size: 1,500 m2

The Sakala editorial building is located in the centre of Viljandi on Tartu Street, next to a former doughnut cafe in a building of historical value. The old milieu was retained by making the new building taller on one side so as to create a uniform central square together with the Rubiin Cinema, Grand Hotel Viljandi, and other surrounding buildings of the same height. At the same time, the side facing Tartu Street is lower, and therefore, does not obstruct the view of pedestrians on the street. At first red brick and large windows were planned, but due to resistance from the National Heritage Board, the plan was dismissed and almost the entire building was constructed using glass. Despite some initial reservations, the people of Viljandi were ultimately pleased with the result, and the fact that the building is lit on dark evenings has attracted particular praise along with the role the new structure plays in helping invigorate the previously deserted city centre. The ground floor houses a bank and a shop and the Sakala Editorial offices are located on the upper levels.

Letters and words form the design theme throughout, since the Sakala newspaper has been working with words for more than a century (Carl Robert Jakobson founded the newspaper in 1878). Letters, words and memorable quotations can be seen on glass partitions, tables and floors. The more clever Sakala headlines over the years are preserved in the polished concrete floor. The concrete has been aged, polished and metal letters glued into it and everything finished with an epoxy lacquer polished to a mirror-finish. The ceiling uses milky acrylic glass panels reminiscent of folded newspapers, which conceal the wiring and reduce noise.