• Interior Design: Mari Koger
  • Location: Matka Road 32, Tallinn, Estonia
  • Size: 172m2
  • Status: completed 2004
  • Constructor: Lahever Ehitus OÜ
  • Client: private
  • Photos: Arne Maasik

2004: Wooden Building of the Year

The conceptual companion to the Tabasalu residence is located in the Mähe district of Tallinn. There are several similarities: the simple geometrical volumes, separation of the residence and garage, the structural use of wood as well as for the exterior and interior finishing, natural materials, and the general impression of warmth that is created by the orange wooden cladding. However, there are also significant differences. While the situation in Tabasalu was initially a tabula rasa, the Mähe house had to be planted on a very small lot in the suburb surrounded by densely-packed, standardised gable-roofed houses built in the 1950s. In any case, the newcomer was an invader in a developed environment, and the design of the modern house therefore had to be softened somewhat to make it fit in with its more traditionally designed neighbours.


The two main measures used to achieve this were firstly placing the garage unit on the edge of the street, thereby creating a private buffer for the entrance, and secondly partitioning the volume (which is larger than its neighbours) into an S-shape – thus creating a small, sheltered courtyard in the middle of the house. The wooden plank fence that surrounds the house is also well-suited to the composition. Among the usual rooms compulsory to a dwelling, one unique room inside the house is the work- and practice room for the family of musicians, which can accommodate two grand pianos side by side. The calm Nordic-style residence vividly demonstrates how high-quality architecture can be achieved in both form and execution with a limited budget.

The complete solution received an award in the competition for Wooden Building of the Year of 2004. Architect Veljo Kaasik, the chairman of the jury, said the following: “The residence shows how a result can be achieved skilfully within a framework of restrained volumes and programmatic requirements outlined by the client, but specifically in order to satisfy the informed owners’ own inner needs.”