Estonia 100: Idea competition for Tallinn's main streetFinished

The Estonian Centre of Architecture, the Estonian Association of Architects and the City of Tallinn have announced an idea competition for building a new, 21st century main street for Tallinn by the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia.    

Photo: Paco Ulman

The main street idea competition is a first stage of the project to develop a mobility area between the Old City Harbour and the centre, with the aim of creating a people-centred and modern urban environment in the heart of Tallinn by unifying the fragmented centre of Tallinn into an integral whole. The entire main street project comprises the centre-side part of Pärnu maantee and the beginning of Narva maantee; adjacent blocks will also be included in the second stage.

"Today, Tallinn's de facto main street is a thoroughfare that has been planned for five decades with just one idea in mind – as the number of cars is increasing, pedestrians should make way. Therefore, the Old Town has been cut off from central Tallinn by main roads. The best places for lively cafes, street life and just passing the time are neglected, as pedestrians or people on bikes are not able to access them in a comfortable or safe manner," the manager of the project, chairman of the Estonian Centre of Architecture Raul Järg explained. "However, countless examples can be found from around the world where the domination of cars has been resolutely reversed and a shared urban environment created instead. This has had the effect of enlivening urban culture as well as local trade and services, and of bringing people out of their cars – even in northern climates."

The experience of world metropolises also shows that giving preference to light traffic and public transport at the expense of car traffic will not result in chaos, as has sometimes been feared. Inhabitants are significantly more content with the urban environment after such changes, and the visiting rates and earnings of local businesses have gone up. "To put it simply, we want to see a living heart of the city, a place where people come because they want to, not because they have to – in the case of a transit zone, the latter is true," Järg explained. "A model analysis ordered by the Centre of Architecture confirms that it is possible to direct a large part of transit traffic away from the heart of the city without causing major traffic problems, if the arrangements are carefully considered."

The solution for Tallinn's main street that is sought through the idea competition should fit in with the concept of Tallinn as a possible Green Capital of Europe, in form as well as function. A recognisable design of the main street is expected of the solution concept. It should support the enlivening of street space and an increase in services offered. The main street must be a pleasant meeting place and socialising environment for Tallinners as well as visitors.

Attention! The documents required for qualification and participation in the competition should be submitted by 8 March, and the deadline for entries to the idea competition is 25 April.

The conditions of the idea competition as well as background materials are available at

There is also more information about the vision of the main street on the Main Street homepage

The competition is organised as a partnership between the Estonia 100 architectural programme "Good Public Space" curated by the Association of Architects and the project of developing the mobility environment between the Old City Harbour and the centre, which is funded jointly by the City of Tallinn and the European Cohesion Fund.

The winning entry will be used as a basis for the further design and construction of the main street area. The solution for the public space of Tallinn's Main Street will be built in full or partially by 2020 within the Estonia 100 programme, using funds from the European Cohesion Fund and the City of Tallinn. The main street project is supported by the Environmental Investment Centre, the Cohesion Fund, City of Tallinn, the Estonian Centre of Architecture, the Estonian Association of Architects, AS Tallinna Sadam, AS Viru Keskus and a number of other local businesses.

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