Open-Air Exhibition Grounds of the Estonian Road Museum

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Karli Luik
Maarja Kask
Pelle-Sten Viiburg
Ralf Lõoke
Salto Architects

Open competition 2004

2nd prize


Varbuse, Põlva County, Estonia

Site area

13 000m2


completed 2010 (1st phase)


Estonian Road Museum


Karli Luik, Pelle-Sten Viiburg, Nathan Willock


Landscape and Urban Planning, Public Projects


Competition, Educational

Annual Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia 2010.

Concrete Building of the Year in Estonia: Special Prize 2010.

Estonian Union of Landscape Architects: Deed of the Year 2010.

The open-air exhibition grounds of the Estonian Road Museum is a mixture of many layers. Not only does it operate on an informative level, it also incorporates opportunities for leisure activities and for experiencing artificial and natural landscape in a compelling dialogue. The concept of the exhibition grounds is based on a road – while passing by, your route will be surrounded by different landscapes.

The solution forms a long 8-shaped path, where functions with different character and scale are placed in succession like a comic strip. All space necessary for the museum is scooped into the hilly South-Estonian landscape, leaving rest of the environment as natural as possible: natural and artificial landscape is clearly separated, yet treated equally. A hollow ranging from 10 cm to 4 m deep forms more than 13 000 square meters of open-air exhibition space which is barely visible from the remote surrounding areas.

The structure is built of reinforced concrete, with wood-paneled ‘nests’ (ticket and souvenir booth, lavatory), authentic historical objects (roadside pub, gas station, bridge, segment of a railroad etc) and graphic concrete softening the architecture of the conveniently infrastructure-like edifice.