Edible, Or the Architecture of Metabolism


Reinventing the Mikrorayon: The Circular Block Competition


Sponsor: Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB)
Location: Tallinn, Estonia
Type: open, international, ideas
Language: English
Fee: none
Eligibility: Estonian and foreign architects, students
1 December 2021 – Questions deadline
28 February 2022 – Digital submissions due
May 2022 – Winners announced

1st Prize – €4,000
2nd Prize – €2,000
3rd Prize – €1,000
• Winy Maas, Founder, MVRDV, The Netherlands
• Kaidi Pöldoja, Spatial Planning Competence Centre, Tallinn
• Benedetta Tagliabue, Miralles Tagliabue EMBT, Barcelona
• Toomas Tammis, architect and Professor, Estonian Academy of Arts
• Veronika Valk-Siska, PhD, architect and advisor to the Estonia Ministry of Culture

Design Challenge
In Estonia, buildings are responsible for around half of the nation’s energy consumption and about a quarter of the country’s carbon footprint. With comparable numbers in the built environment in different geographic regions, architecture’s response to the climate emergency through alternative design, construction and operational models is critical. How can microbial fuel units, anaerobic digesters, bacteria tanks, green cultivations, algae units and other building elements be retrofitted to existing housing units and the building block as a whole, so as not only function as engineering infrastructure, but also as inhabitable space? What are the aesthetic questions of infrastructure and how can such questions be applied to foster a creative design process? 
Operating at three distinct scales, the CIRCULAR BLOCK Vision Competition invites participants to consider Tallinn’s Lasnamäe district as a territory to investigate design strategies that allow urban blocks to produce food for its inhabitants, generate required energy partially off the grid, use waste for generating energy or products, increase urban density using demolition waste, or implement blockchain technology for locally managing energy or material resources, among other possibilities.

In many ways, the block is a mediator; it is an organizational vessel that enables the flow of materials, ideas and people. In the competition, participants are asked to reinvent the block and its buildings as mediators of environmental, material and activity flows. How can an urban unit convert matter to energy and provide simultaneously a vital space for the community? The CIRCULAR BLOCK asks participants to develop an ideological as well as a materialist position to questions of recycling and to carry this position through the design of their proposals. From the micro scale—investigating material conversions—to the macro scale—investigating the dynamics of urban exchange and environmental flows,—participants are encouraged to investigate strategies and models for recirculating matter and energy based on principles of distribution and localization.

For more information and to enter: