Tartu Downtown Cultural Centre
Client: Tartu City Government
Place: Tartu, Estonia
Date: 2023 Competition
Alejandro Zaera-Polo, Maider Llaguno-Munitxa, Ivaylo Nachev, George Foundos
Our proposal for the New Tartu Downtown Cultural Centre aims to integrate the new facilities Tartu cultural facilities with the current state of Kaubahoovi Square. We aim to preserve the existing conditions and the vegetation as much as possible. The preservation of the urban green is a crucial part of a contemporary urbanity on a global scale. The only option to avoid destroying the green square and its trees is placing the whole program underground. Our proposal is that the image of the new Tartu Downtown Cultural Centre should be the existing green space with a perimetral tree lining enclosing the public space: a “clear in the forest” where the future cultural infrastructure for Tartu will be located.
By placing the program entirely underground, the complex will also achieve excellent environmental performance, as it will benefit from the earth thermal mass and from excellent insulation levels.
Four large underground circular atria will provide the necessary daylight and act as ventilation devices in the summer, using the stack effect to move the air without resorting to full mechanical ventilation. In the winter, the underground atriums will also act a thermal buffers, heating the air through greenhouse effects.
The Atria will be covered with large glass geodetic domes. We have adopted a circular geometry for the atria because it is the geometry which create the maximum permeability to public flow across the site. The majority of the ground surface will remain a green surface suitable for multiple public uses. These atria will act both as a window into the different parts of the cultural complex and as a lighting device for the public space in the evenings.
The trees in Kaubahoovi Square will become the “façade” of the new cultural centre.
The architectural character of the complex is precisely to minimize its appearance and to make the Complex an integral part of Kaubahoovi Square. At that effect, the atria have been covered with geodetic glass domes, to ensure that the roofing of the atria is efficient, bringing light down to the underground complex with the most efficient structure while also minimizing their obtrusion of Kaubahoovi Square. views inside the tree envelope. The proposal is for the complex to be signaled from afar by the tree lining the edges of Kaubahoovi Square. Once people enter the Square they will see the different domes, each of them associated to a different program in the Complex. The public will also be able to look down into the different programs so the glass domes will act as windows into the underground programs.