University of Tartu to renovate Old Observatory astronomers' residence

University of Tartu main building.
University of Tartu main building. Source: ERR

The University of Tartu has launched a public tender for the renovation of the Tartu Old Observatory astronomers' residence building. The university also has plans to renovate at least three more of its buildings in the near future.

Built in the early 19th century, the Tartu Old Observatory astronomers' residence is located in the heritage conservation area of city's Old Town and is a listed building and UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, according to the Estonian National Registry of Cultural Monuments, the building is currently in poor condition.

As its owner, the University of Tartu plans to repair the structural damage to the building as well as renew both its interior and exterior. The work will also involve changes to the layout of the rooms and the technical infrastructure, while all remaining within the limits of the preservation order, said Heiki Pagel, head of real estate department at the University of Tartu.

After the reconstruction work is complete, the university's human resources department will move into the building.

"The human resources department is currently based in the university's main building, where we actually have a real shortage of space. The human resources department is just the right size to fit nicely into that building. So, it was with that in mind, that the idea came about to reorganize the building to accommodate (them)," said Pagel.

Pagel preferred not to disclose the estimated cost of the renovation works before the outcome of the tender. However, the building is expected to be ready for the university's HR department to use by the end of this year.

The astronomers' residence is not the only building the University of Tartu is planning to renovate.

A search is currently underway via a public tender, for a company to carry out works on the building at Lai 40, on the edge of the University of Tartu Botanical Garden. The building, like the astronomers' residence, also has heritage protection status and is currently vacant.

According to Pagel, the property at Lai 40 will undergo the same type of renovation works as the astronomers' residence. "This building will be used by the university's natural history museum, partly for storage facilities and partly as a study and development center," said Pagel.

In connection with the university, a national tender process is also expected to be launched for the renovation of the old anatomical theater (Vana anatoomikum) building at Lossi 38. Once the work there is complete, the building will be used to house the university's IT department.

There are also plans to modernize the student residence at Nooruse 7, with a tender likely to be launched in the summer.

Pagel added, that the university's plans are not limited to the reconstruction of its buildings. "In fact, we have a number of plans related to (improving) energy efficiency, as well as for solar panels and solar parks. We actually have over a dozen of these smaller investment projects on the list. So, there's a lot of development work to be done."


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Editor: Michael Cole

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