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Downtown cultural centre Architecture Competition

Veiko Faster
Senior lawyer of the City Office
[email protected]

Tartu downtown cultural centre Architecture Competition


Tartu city government in cooperation with the Estonian Association of Architects will organize the international architecture competition for the Tartu downtown cultural centre. Architects from all over the world are invited to design one of the most important future cultural spaces in the second biggest city of Estonia, in the very heart of university town Tartu.

The purpose of the competition is to find the best architectural design for the building and outdoor space of the cultural centre, which suits the given location and milieu the most and creates a whole with the urban space along the river Emajõgi.

Participants are invited to design a building for city library, art museum, event centre with multifunctional black-box and other activities supporting the cultural centre with a biologically diverse and active park and human scale public space.

The competition was launced at 02.01.2023.

Photo by Evelin Lumi
Photo by Evelin Lumi

Opening seminar of architecture competition

On January 16, the opening seminar of the Downtown Cultural Centre took place, presenting the competition’s objectives and conditions.

Kristina Pai, Head of the Tartu Public Library
Joanna Hoffmann, Head of the Tartu Art Museum
Tõnis Arjus, Tartu city architect
Elo Kiivet, Project manager of the Tartu Downtown Cultural Centre

Competition site

The competition site, with a size of approximately 4,6 ha, is situated on the banks of river Emajõgi in central Tartu, in the protection zone of the Old Town heritage protection area of Tartu. The competition site streches from Küüni street to river Emajõgi on one side and from Tartu department store and market building to Poe street on the other.  

The address of the plot of the new cultural centre is Vanemuise 1, Tartu.


Important goals of the architectural solution:

  • Good fit into the urban space and the integrity of the surrounding public space, including a coherent mobility and landscape architecture solution.
  • Outstanding quality, freshness and innovation.
  • Functional, user-friendly architecture that meets the requirements of the competition task.
  • Energy efficiency and adaptive to climate change, environmental sustainability and biodiversity.
  • Expediency, construction economic efficiency and minimal costs during the life cycle of the object (construction and maintenance).


Open one-stage competition to all professional teams of architects entitled to practice in their country of residence.

Participation is open to architects whose place of residence is in Estonia, Member State of the European Union, contracting state of the European Economic Area or in a country that has acceded to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA).

Please look at the document „Rules of design contest“ p. 4:
Any undertaking (hereinafter the participant) that is situated in Estonia, another EU Member State, EEA Contracting State, or a party to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), as well as consortia made up of the above persons (hereinafter jointly and individually the joint participant), can participate in the contest.

There is meant that participant = company and its location has to be Estonia, another EU Member State, EEA Contracting State (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), or a party to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). You can find the list of the last mentioned states here - https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/gproc_e/memobs_e.htm As India/Turkey etc. are observer, it is unfortunately not possible.

Jury Members

  • Urmas Klaas, mayor of Tartu, jury chair
  • Kristina Pai, director of Tartu public library
  • Joanna Hoffmann, director of Tartu art museum
  • Priit Metsjärv, Tartu city government, head of construction service
  • Tõnis Arjus, Tartu city architect
  • Enrique Sobejano, architect, Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos, Spain
  • Lina Ghotmeh, architect, Lina Ghotmeh—Architecture, France
  • Tõnu Laigu, architect, QP Arhitektid, Estonia
  • Martin Allik, landscape architect, MARELD landskapsarkitekter, Estonia/Sweden

Key dates

  • 02.01.2023 Competition launch
  • 05.05.2023 Submission deadline


  • First prize 60 000 Euros
  • Second prize 40 000 Euros
  • Third prize 20 000 Euros
  • Three special rewards each 10 000 Euros


All competition material can be downloaded from the Estonian Public Procurement Register.

Participation documents and design proposal must be submitted both electronically via the Public Procurement Register and in paper form durign the same term.


Last changed 26.02.2023