1,500 apartments in the popular Tallinn residential area of Mustamäe

Tallinn, Estonia
Client: NCC Ehitus AS
Invited competition: 2005, 1st prize
Completion: 2008 (Phase I)
Size: planned 190,000 m2/ completed 17.500 m2

Mustamäe is a popular residential area not far from central Tallinn. The first apartment buildings were built in the pine forests of Mustamäe at the beginning of the 1960s. A lot of natural greenery and parks have been preserved between the buildings; new parks have also been established. More than 66,000 people were living in Mustamäe in December 2014.

Rabaküla residential area is located on a 20-hectare area that was used as a state market garden during the soviet era adjacent to the apartment buildings of Mustamäe. Primarily cucumbers, tomatoes, spring onions and flowers were grown in the large greenhouses. At the beginning of the 1990s, the infamous Kadaka market functioned here.

The north-south rhythmic grid of the former greenhouses is still visible, even though most of the greenhouses have been demolished. This strict structure has inspired the identity of the new residential area. The new buildings will rewrite the existing network without erasing it.

There are eight different apartment building designs. By combining the designs and settings, a varied and diverse space is created between the buildings. The distance between the buildings varies from 8 to 40 metres, and the height of the buildings from 3 to 8 floors. The placement of the buildings tries to minimize cross-views into the other apartments: the apartments in the higher buildings look over the lower ones and buildings with close proximity have been designed as gallery houses, where the windows open in opposite directions. Concrete, timber, plaster, brick or tin have been used on the exteriors.

Car parks are located on the ground floor and below the buildings so that the space between remains car free even at the ground floor parking level. The parking between the buildings is below ground, with wooden patios and benches for adults and playgrounds with sandpits for the children on top. One playground has been planned for each building.