Freedom Square is the main representative plaza in Tallinn and is the site of activities ranging from military parades to street art and skaters ́ events. Freedom Square was renamed Victory Square during the Soviet era, but the new powers’ representative ambitions of were carried out elsewhere in the city. The 1990’s finally heralded the beginning of redeveloping the square into a contemporary urban space able to accommodate both representative functions and everyday street life. After a ten-year process of negotiations and development, the first phase was completed in 2009 with re-exposed bastion walls, inclined planes, pavement marking the historical underground layers, adjustable greenery, lighting and other urban design elements. The overall impression is compromised by a liberty monument added separately, which expresses unabashed political will and national anguish over the issues of representing memory.
2010: Finalist, European Prize for Urban Public Space.
2009: Freedom Square subterranean parking garage – year’s best concrete structure, Estonian Concrete Union.
As a solution to the given brief, the square becomes a 3-dimensional landscape instead of being a flat vast plot of land. The square consists of a flat ground level polygonal area covering a subterranean parking garage for 200 vehicles, with a vast stair facing south leading to an underpass, which contains a roof-lit museum/exhibition space. The western branch of the square stretches along the bastions to connect the square to the residential areas. The square also includes a roofed bus-stop on its southern edge, which both provides for connectivity of the area within the city, as well as cuts the noise and constant movement of the street from the tranquility of the square. To highlight its legacy, the project included cleaning and restoring the geometry of the original bastion structure, while erasing some 19th century interventions.
In addition to the main architectonic moves, the square gets a lot of its identity from detailing and furniture. The square is clad with 1200 x 3000 mm granite plates, and accentuated by unique over-sized lighting poles. The necessary barriers are made of prefabricated concrete and stand on stainless steel legs, while the furniture is mounted on wheels and integrates greenery as well as seating. The southern stair has double pace for both stepping and for sitting while the the underpass is held up by columns embellished with mushroom-shaped capitals. The cobalt-blue glass wall separating the square from the traffic, also accommodates a multimedia screen designed as an interactive art project.
The new Freedom square was warmly welcomed by the citizens of Tallinn and has become an important “urban stage”, actively used even during the harsh Estonian winters.