Winning design for Tartu dowtown cultural center (SÜKU) announced

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"Paabel,": The winning design for the Tartu Südalinna Cultural Center (SÜKU). Source: Press materials

On Friday, the winner was announced in the competition to design the Tartu Südalinna Cultural Center (Süku), which is set to be built in the downtown area of the city. From a shortlist of the best six entries, the jury eventually selected "Paabel" ("Babel") by architectural firm 3+1 Architects as the winning design.

In the opinion of the jury, Paabel clearly stood out from other works with its well-thought-out architectural solution. The work was best able to capture the goals of the competition and provide solutions using elegant architectural language and professional technical execution.

In the opinion of the jury, the building fits in well with the urban space, the interior solution is impressive and tasteful, and the outdoor space is well designed and balanced, fulfilling all the important goals both from a biodiversity persepctive and the practical use of urban space.

Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas (Reform), who chaired the jury said that the decision had been was unanimous. "In all respects, the winning entry is the strongest work of this competition: architecturally, in terms of functionality, as well as a well-developed outdoor space solution. Based on this work, we have a good idea of the vibrant cultural heart that the city center of Tartu will become," Klaas said.

Architect Veronika Valk-Siska, who was also a member of the jury, said that the spatial solution of the winning work was clearly born from the desire to create a place downtown to be in while experiencing, thinking about and discussing culture.

"The architecture of the building offers a wide range of diverse spatial experiences that are sensitive and meaningful. The prerequisite for the preservation and development of Estonian culture is people's awareness about what is happening, as well as the ability to develop an interest in experiencing and understanding the contact between different cultural fields. The winning entry involves the kind of architecture that supports strong cultural awareness and closeness to the people of Tartu," Valk-Siska said.

Tartu's central park, where the new cultural center will be built. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

In early July, the jury announced that the six best entries were "Aed" ("Garden"), "Paabel" ("Babel"), "Puidust siluett" ("Wooden Silhouette"), "Roheline kultuurikeskus" ("Green Cultural Center"), "Tarte Tatin" and "The Line and the Dot."

The jury comprised Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas (Reform), Tartu City Library Director Kristina Pai, Tartu Art Museum Director Joanna Hoffmann, head of Tartu City Government Construction Service Priit Metsjärv, Tartu City Architect Tõnis Arjus, architect Enrique Sobejano (Nieto Sobejano Architects, Spain), architect Veronika Valk-Siska (Union of Estonian Architects), architect Tõnu Laigu (QP Architects, Estonia) and landscape architect Martin Allik (MARELD Landscape Architects, Estonia/Sweden).

A total of 107 entries were received in the international architectural competition to design the Tartu Südalinna Cultural Center (SÜKU). 28 were from Estonia and 79 from abroad, with entrants from 26 countries taking part.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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