Wednesday saw the launch of an architectural competition to renovate the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, with the goal of making the surrounding urban area more enjoyable even when the festival is not in progress.
Urmo Saareoja, the manager of the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, said that the 23-hectare space is intended to be integrated into the urban environment.
"One of our main goals is to increase the number of people who visit the Song Festival Grounds. Families, single visitors, concertgoers and Song Festival attendees can all experience the exact emotion they need at the exact time they need it. The challenge, in fact, is resolving the conflict between these various stakeholders and the various times when we have large events, small events or none at all," Saareoja told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Wednesday.
"It is clear that the grounds should carry on telling the story of the Song Festivals and the restoration of Estonian independence even when new solutions are realized," he said.
"Although Song Festivals and other significant events are an integral part of the Song Festival Grounds' identity, the number of visitors who appreciate our park's green surroundings also increases every year. So in order to give the greatest possible experience to our guests we are searching for novel ways to develop all three of these aspects," Saareoja explained.
The deadline for submissions is November 7, after which the Song Festival aims to make the competition as public as possible.
"As we all know, the singing field is a personal space for Estonians and we cannot do this in secret or in private; rather, we seek to discuss all plans, examples and solutions in public," Saareoja said.
Estonian Choral Association (ECA) is also involved in the reconstruction of the Song Festival Grounds.
"Whatever we come up with now, I think the most important criteria is that the singer feels comfortable and wants to be there, whether performing during the Song Festival or visiting the grounds between festivals. When we start planning something for this space, we should think about the content carefully," Hirvo Surva, the head of the Association, said.
"In fact, this project has been in the works for quite some time now and many aspects have been discussed. The Song Festival Grounds are quite cooperative and I sincerely hope that we will all do everything possible to keep this location as it was intended," Surva explained.
The competition to find a holistic approach to the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds is a one-stage public design competition and the winner entry will serve as the basis for the further development of the grounds.
"We first need a holistic concept for the entire grounds before moving forward with the detailed planning of the Song Festival Grounds, which is why we are launching this design competition," Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart said.
The spatial vision proposal calls for the addition of new architectural projects to the site's building complex. The most important of these are a smaller-audience concert venue, a visitor center on the hillside of the Song Festival Grounds, and a pedestrian bridge connecting the Song Festival Grounds to Kadriorg Park.
The current competition's goal is not to suggest a specific design for these sites, but to define their basic spatial characteristics; once the final solution for the grounds as a whole has been decided, separate architectural competitions will be launched to detail also these buildings.
The winning proposal will be chosen by a jury comprised of representatives from the City of Tallinn, the Ministry of Culture, the Estonian Song and Dance Festival Foundation, the Union of Estonian Architects, and the Union of Estonian Landscape Architects.
The Union of Estonian Architects is the competition's co-organizer. The prize fund is €43,000 and the results will be announced by the end of 2022.
Editor: Kristina Kersa