The Danish Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), a Copenhagen based group of 85 architects, designers, builders and thinkers, has been awarded first place in an international design competition for the new City Hall near the Linnahall building on the harbour of the Estonian Tallinn. The new design presents a cluster of volumes, housing different administrative offices. The volumes are elevated creating a new public place under the Town Hall. Like most projects by BIG the architecture is derived by rationalised organisational principle, this time to maximize natural lighting by breaking up the building function into small blocks – this allows for courtyards to be created at various levels as well open up the ground floor as an extension of the city.
Inside, the city council greeting hall is accessed via the grand stair or elevators directly from the market place, or from the city offices around it. Above the greeting hall, the city council is located in a generous space illuminated though a large window facing the city. The ceiling of the tower is tiled with a reflective surface – creating a kind of ‘periscope’ effect. The circular formation of council members will thus be reflected in the tilted ceiling. From a distance the silhouette of the town hall tower enters the family of Tallinn’s historical spires including those of the Niguliste Museum-Concert Hall, Toomkirik, Kaarli Kirik, Pühavaimu Kirik, St. Olav Church and the current Town Hall.
Bjarke Ingels, BIG, Partner-in-Charge:
“There is a saying that success has many fathers. That is especially true when designing such a crucial public building and public space as a town hall. The design needs to be shaped by input from neighbours and users, citizens and politicians. Paradoxically we architects often find ourselves isolated from this crucial dialogue at the moment of conception, due to the anonymity of the architectural competition. Since this was a 2 stage competition, we already had our first feedback from the jury – causing us to dramatically rearrange our design to fit the citizens’ needs. As a result we have envisioned a very elastic structure – capable of adapting to unexpected demands. We see it as the first conversation in a design dialogue we look forward to continue.”