Dynamo (Izabela Cichonska, Nathan DeGroot, Ondrej Janku)

First Prize, Tallinn Architecture Biennale Vision Competition


Tallinn, Estonia

Within Tallinn’s urban archipelago, Väike-Õismäe is the ultimate island. The sub-district was designed in Soviet times on the edge of the city as a happy marriage between modernist architecture and socialism. The beauty and stoicism of the circular block-housing district is both striking and disorienting, as its repetition overwhelms the place. At the core of the concentric plan is a void - the inversion of an island. It is surrounded by vast space intended as a common ground. How can this ground be reactivated?

We propose to ‘wake up’ the sleeping neighborhood by recharging the ground level. Significant aspects of the surrounding area are strategically pulled into Väike-Õismäe, transforming the district from a dedicated residential and institutional zone to a versatile mix of natural habitat, commercial activity, and communal identity. Its new identity is assembled on the original, through the preservation of its architectural integrity and original concept of communal life, but opened up to new uses and interactions.

The facade panels of the lowest 2 floors are removed from the buildings and recycled as the infrastructure for a local market, urban farm and community garden. The flexibility of their placement in the landscape allows for constant adaptation for different uses. While maintaining its architectural heritage, the base of the buildings become an open framework for improvisation, and the recycled panels are reassembled for new uses.