Kauss Arhitektuur OÜ

University of Tartu’s academic building in Tallinn gets a new look

The jury of the architecture competition, organised by the University of Tartu in cooperation with the Estonian Association of Architects, selected the best design solution for reconstructing the academic building of the university’s Tallinn office of the School of Law and designing the yard area. The winning entry was “Cascade” by the architectural office Kauss Arhitektuur OÜ.

The aim of reconstructing the academic building of the Tallinn office is to offer students and teaching staff a new learning environment with opportunities for extracurricular interaction and study, besides lectures. The new solution provides lecture halls and various study and social areas to encourage teamwork and socialising among students.


According to Kstina Noormets, Director of Administration at the University of Tartu and chair of the jury, the task was a challenging one. “An important consideration is the location – how to make the University of Tartu visible near Vabaduse Square so that it would give something back to the urban space and respect the existing environment. On the other hand, in the historical setting, a balance had to be maintained between the volumes of the old and new parts of the building. The proposed extensions received a lot of attention from the jury, and quite a few entries were met with differing opinions – what actually should the façade of a university building look like?” said Noormets.

The jury chose the entry “Cascade” by architects from Kauss Arhitektuur OÜ as the best design because its architectural idea is clear, the solution is well-balanced, and it fits well in terms of volume with the existing buildings. The main façade is imposing and appropriate for the university.


According to the winning design, there will be columns in front of the main entrance, as part of an airy wooden structure. The columns help create a practical large dispersal area in front of the building, so the entrance takes a step back from the street. The multi-level, varied outdoor space in the sunny yard is perfect for relaxing, working or studying. As an ingenious twist, the authors have made use of the electrical substation roof that is connected to the second floor by a bridge, structuring the space and providing a shelter for bicycles. The yard area is large and versatile – an excellent solution that invites people outdoors.


The spacious common areas give the building a clearly outlined heart, a unifying social space traceable throughout the building. Students are likely to actively use this soft-covered staircase area. The lobby is well-designed and gives a spacious and bright overall impression. The rooms are logically arranged and easy to find.

There is also a varied common area and social space, with many study nooks, including places that can be separated for group work. The library area is well integrated with the common area and the different floors, and the building offers excellent opportunities for studying and reading. The use of wood in the interior design creates a friendly and nice atmosphere, and the overall design of the spaces is modern, comfortable and inviting to study.

By the deadline, sixteen entries were submitted to the architecture competition, and all were shortlisted for evaluation. The prize fund of €35,000 was distributed as follows.

  • First prize €11,000 – entry “Cascade” (authors Kristiina Aasvee, Lauri Eltermaa and Kaur Talpsep  Kauss Arhitektuur OÜ)
  • Second prize €9,000 – entry “L and L” (authors Alvin Järving, Ott Alver, Mari Rass, Patrick Barbo, Lill Volmer, Luisa Männilaan and Lukas Laubre from Arhitekt Must OÜ)
  • Third prize €7,000 – entry “Open Idea” (authors Keiu Tulev, Anna Solts, Ervin Golvih, Allar Esko, Jaan Kuusemets and Erko Luhaaru from DAGOpen OÜ)
  • Incentive prize €4,000 – entry “Tabula Rasa” (author Villem Tomiste from Stuudio Tallinn OÜ)
  • Incentive prize €4,000 – entry “Arrow” (authors Lembit-Kaur Stöör, Liis Lindvere, Martin Tago, Raivo Kotov ja Vincet Marquardt from KOKO arhitektid OÜ).

The jury comprised Kstina Noormets, Director of Administration of the University of Tartu; Gaabriel Tavits, Director of the School of Law; Viljo Vider, Head of the Institutional Development Service of the university’s Estate Office; Katrin Koov, Eve Komp and Ülo Peil, representatives of the Estonian Association of Architects; and Lea Järve, Architect of the Tallinn Urban Planning Department.


Design contract signed for the renovation and extension of the academic building of the UT Tallinn office of the School of Law

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