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Zaha Hadid Architects win design competition for Tallinn’s Old City Harbour

Tallinn’s Old City Harbour, the main entry point to Estonia for millions of ferry and cruise ship passengers every year, will undergo extensive reconstruction and development until 2030. The winning bid for the masterplan of the project was submitted by internationally acclaimed Zaha Hadid Architects.

Zaha Hadid Architects has won the design competition for Tallinn’s Old City Harbour. According to the jury, what decided the last round was how their project called "Stream City" fits into the existing city scene, how it connects to the rest of the city center, and both the project’s innovativeness and practicality.

The jury was led by CEO of Port of Tallinn (AS Tallinna Sadam), Valdo Kalm. The winning project was an innovative and global solution for the port area, Kalm said: “The work clearly outlines the diagonals of the pedestrian walkways throughout, around which it builds up a varied and memorable city space.”

The project’s strong real estate and logistics analysis had also played a role in the selection, Kalm added. Beyond that, their plan could be implemented in stages and was practical as well.

Port of Tallinn are hoping to get the development plan for the Old City Harbour ready by the end of this year, with a view to completing construction by 2030. After the development plan is ready, Zaha Hadid Architects will then work on the designs in detail. In parallel business models are to be developed for the realization of the project.

The current D-Terminal will undergo extensive modification, including an extension of the current terminal building. The works will be completed already next year. A passenger bridge across the Admiralty Basin is also planned.

The new cruise ship terminal currently in the works at Salto AB architects will be built along the northern quay, its design will have to submit to the general development plan and fit in with the remainder of the buildings.

Port of Tallinn announced the competition for the development project last year. The jury making the preliminary and final selections also included the director of Port of Tallinn’s infrastructure development department Hele-Mai Metsal, chief architect of Tallinn Endrik Mänd, deputy chairman of the Estonian Association of Architects Peeter Pere, and architect Ülar Mark.

Zaha Hadid Architects was founded by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid (1950-2016). Since it was founded in 1980, the firm’s buildings have all gained cult status in the architecture scene. Hadid was legendary for her hard to categorize style: “The idea is not to have any 90-degree angles. In the beginning, there was the diagonal. The diagonal comes from the idea of the explosion which ‘re-forms’ the space. This was an important discovery,” Hadid said about her own work.

The Old City Harbour masterplan isn’t the firm’s first project in the Baltic states. In 2008 it won the international design competition for the Vilnius Guggenheim Hermitage Museum. The project, with the museum initially expected to open in 2011, is currently on hold due to an embezzlement inquiry related to how it was going to be funded.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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