Tallinn Port Masterplan 2030 Competition

Winning entry by Zaha Hadid Architects (image © Zaha Hadid Architects)


During Soviet rule until its independence in1991, Estonia, as a Soviet Republic, gained a reputation as a Silicon Valley hi-tech region, which set the stage for its evolution as one of Europe’s primary hi-tech centers today. Looking to the West instead of its eastern neighbor culturally, Estonia has embarked on a mission to transform its urban fabric, bringing it up to modern standards, both in function and appearance. Part of this is to counter the visual impact of Soviet-era housing stock, which has been most prominent in cities like Tallinn, its capital.


Although its old city center has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, rising activity at its harbor has led the city to rethink not only expansion of the harbor itself, but how it relates to the rest of the city’s central area. With this in mind, the city sponsored a three-stage ideas competition, which focused on future expansion of the harbor to accommodate both its fast-growing cargo and tourist activity, as well as the surrounding area. The intent of the competition is to incorporate the ideas resulting from it by year 2030.



The jury adjudicating the selection of finalists and the winner was very local, but did include several architects:

  • Valdo Kalm (chairman of the management board of the Port of Tallinn)
  • Hele- Mai Metsal (Director of the Infrastructure Development Department of the Port of Tallinn)
  • Endrik Mänd (chief architect of the City of Tallinn)
  • Peeter Pere (vice-chairman of the Estonian Association of Architects)
  • Ülar Mark (a member of the Estonian Association of Architects).


The final stage of the competition resulted in three finalists:

  • Zaha Hadid Architects with Tyréns U.K., London (Winner)
  • Alejandro Zaera-Polo Maider Llaguno Architecture/Kavakava, London/Tallinn (kavakava@kavakava.ee)
  • Andres Alver, Tallinn (alver.arhitektid@ata.ee)


According to jury Chair, Valdo Kelm, in a ‘press release’ by the sponsor:
“The winning entry (by Zaha Hadid Architects) stood out for its innovative and integrated approach to Tallinn’s maritime gateway.


Zaha Hadid has very skilfully created a balanced connection between urban space and the port area with some carefully considered access roads and traffic solutions,” he said. “What stands out in their designs are the diagonals running through them of the pedestrian footpaths, around which a very diverse and memorable city space has been established. Interesting details include the water features they’ve designed along Reidi Street and their partial – and very smooth and effective – raising of the areas for pedestrians up to ‘another level.’ Adding to the overall feel of integration in their designs is the urban square and greenery they’ve come up with for the area around Admiralty Basin, stretching all the way from the front of Terminal A to the front of Terminal D. Their entry was also marked out by strong logistics and property development analysis and a convincing and realistic projection.



Winning entry by Zaha Hadid Architects (images © Zaha Hadid Architects)


In making their selection the jury assessed the entries for their compliance with the competition task set for this stage. Among other aspects, they evaluated how well the ideas worked with the surrounding environment, how well thought-through the connections were between the port and the city, how fresh and innovative the solutions were and how feasible it would be to realize the ideas.


The objective of the Port of Tallinn in working with Zaha Hadid Architects is to complete the Masterplan 2030 for the Old City Harbour by the end of 2017. Once this has been done, detailed plans will be commissioned and suitable business models elaborated for the implementation of developments.


When drawing up the development plans for Talllinn Old City Harbour, the Zaha Hadid Architects will work together with the following partners: Latvian architectural bureau RemPro as a regional partner, Tyrens UK as a consultant for urban, landscape, sustainability and traffic planning, Colliers Estonia and RLB UK as a consultant for real estate and cost and VA-Render for visuals.


It probably didn’t hurt the chances of the Zaha Hadid design that their renderings looked very much like the ‘City of Tomorrow.’ This was especially notable in their treatment of the areas not immediately contiguous to the harbor itself. -Editor



Finalist: Alejandro Zaera-Polo Maider Llaguno Architecture/Kavakava, London/Tallinn


(images © Kavakava)



Finalist: Andres Alver, Tallinn 


(image © Andres Alver)