The architectural competition for Tallinna Reaalkool won by Molumba with the design R²

The architectural competition for the extension of Tallinna Reaalkool – Tallinn Secondary School of Science – has been won by an Estonian architecture office Molumba with the design R². Construction is scheduled to start in 2024.

“Tallinn has been preparing the concept and the architectural competition for the extension of Tallinna Reaalkoool for a long time. Now we have reached the stage where a very competent jury had the opportunity to select from among the high-level concept designs the most suitable solution for the distinguished historical school and the urban space surrounding it," said Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart. "Improving the learning conditions in Tallinn's schools is one of the city government's priorities and the city invests in improving the conditions of educational institutions every year. The education budget, including investments, accounts for almost a third of the city's budget.”

The jury judged the winning design, R2, to be a prestigious and dignified architecture, in keeping with the image of the school and adding a modern, fresh architectural flair to a complex of stately buildings. The design is compact, with a clear structural and functional scheme, which allows for easy organisation of the functional changes needed for the school, both during the design phase and in the years to come. The jury found that the teaching spaces are functionally well designed, including the separate use of the sports area and the roof terraces for outdoor learning. The new building is dynamic and its space can be easily adapted to different specific learning tasks and methods.

The new building will be located in the very centre of Tallinn, at Estonia pst 6 and 6a between the existing school building that dates from 1883, and the main building of the Tallinn Central Library. The aim of the architectural competition was to select the best architectural solution for the new educational building and outdoor space, which would also give a broader meaning to the space between Estonia puiestee, Pärnu maantee and Georg Ots street as a holistic educational quarter.

“Having been involved with this school building for more than 20 years as a teacher, head of department and principal, my team and I have always stressed that making a school with a meaningful story is a great challenge – history and traditions are our foundation, our platform of values,” said Ene Saar, member of the architectural competition jury and principal of Tallinna Reaalkool. “At the same time, we need to design both the mental and physical space of our community in such a way that we can support the development of every teacher and student at Tallinna Reaalkool to be creative, knowledgeable and able to contribute to the life of future Estonia.”

The new building will provide Tallinna Reaalkool's primary and secondary school students with state-of-the-art opportunities for learning science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and will allow for flexible and creative use of space in the primary classes, such as open and flipped classrooms. The school will also be able to offer physical education classes in two full-size sports halls with basketball courts, an aerobics hall and gym, and a small gymnastics hall. The proposed centre of excellence in science and technology will be unique in Estonia and will enable the school to host pupils from partner schools and to organise after-school activities in science and technology. The physical education part of the winning design will be located on the basement floor of the building, the technology part on the ground floor, the primary classes on the first and second floors and the competence centre on the third and fourth floors.

The additional space provided by the extension will also enable to make more efficient and appropriate use of space in the old building. The school grounds will be cleaned up, and the former concert-shell in the courtyard will be restored.

The construction design of the new building is expected to be completed in 2023 and the extension is planned to be completed by the beginning of the school year 2025/2026. The architectural competition was launched by the Tallinn City Treasury together with the Tallinn Strategic Management Office and the Union of Estonian Architects in early December last year. The total prize fund for the competition was €41 000 and 15 designs were submitted by the deadline.

The prize for the winning design "R2" is €14 000. Second place in the competition and a prize of €11,000 was awarded to the design "Rootor" by architecture office 3+1, whose authors were Gert Guriev, Karin Harkmaa, Markus Kaasik, Jana Pärn and Siim Tiisvelt.

Third place and a prize of €8,000 went to the design “School” by the Latvian architecture office Sarma & Norde Architects, by Visvaldis Sarma and Inga Zūdiņa.

The €4,000 incentive prize went to the concept design "Dasein" by DAGOpen architects Jaan Kuusemets, Erko Luhaaru, Saamuel Rammo, Anna Solts, and Allar Esko, and the conceptual design for "Hariduse käik" by HG Arhitektuur by Kaspar Stroom, Martin Niglas, Hanna-Loore Õunpuu, Mari Ann Ainsar, Evelyn Fridolin, Jüri Nigulas, Hanna Riin Kink, Andrea Ainjärv and Tomomi Hayashi.  

The jury was chaired by Mart Kalm, architectural historian and Rector of the Estonian Academy of Arts. The jury was composed of Ene Saar, principal of Tallinna Reaalkool, Oliver Alver, Deputy Head of the Tallinn Urban Planning Department, Jaak-Adam Looveer, architect and urban planner of the Tallinn Competence Centre of Spatial Planning, Martin Siimer, Project Manager of the Construction and Procurement Division of the Tallinn Property Department, and Mari Rass and Tarmo Teedumäe, representatives of the Union of Estonian Architects. In addition, city officials and experts were involved in the evaluation.

The winning designs of the architectural competition are available here.