De la Gardie Department Store
Viru 13/15, Tallinn, Estonia
Mies van der Rohe Award nomination 2001
Estonian Cultural Endowment's annual Architecture Prize 2000
Completed in 2000
One of the most celebrated buildings by Alver Architects, De La Gardie department store is located at the main gateway into the Old Town of Tallinn. Situated on its main shopping street Viru, the building fills a void left from the air-raids of WWII. The building is the result of keen discussions between architects and planning and conservation authorities about the feasibility of new buildings inside the medieval walls of the city, which belongs to the UNESCO world heritage list. The department store remains to this day one of the few examples of modern architecture in this part of Tallinn.
The building structure fits precisely within the borders of the three historical lots beneath it. Its volume and street facades take into account the surrounding scale of streetscape, its height and rhythm and changes brought by the 19th and 20th centuries. The choice of materials mirrors the existing facades of historic buildings, but also adds some fresh touches by using traditional materials. The narrow end of the building on a smaller side street is covered with pre-patinated copper panels.
The program of the building consists mostly of commercial retail spaces. Basement floor and three upper floors are used by different shops and the 4th floor is left for a cafe and a restaurant. The interior space of the building is built up around a vertical atrium that contains an open suspended stair with wooden steps and a glass elevator in a wire mesh tower. A curved steel stair connects the 3rd and 4th floors. Escalators and a service elevator are situated at the back of the building.