University of Tartu Narva College

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Kavakava Architects

Project team

Siiri Vallner, Indrek Peil, Katrin Koov, Heidi Urb, Maarja Tüür, Kaire Nõmm, Andro Mänd, Sten Mark Mändmaa, Helina Lass

Interior architect

Hannes Praks, Kadri Tamme, Kristjan Holm, Liisi Murula, Toomas Pääsuke, Ahti Grünberg, Daniel Marius Reisser, Helen Sarapuu (Hannes Praks OÜ)


Maari Idnurm, Siim Randmäe (EEB OÜ)

Competition & awards

Open, 2005, 1st Prize;
Estonian Culture Endowment Prize, 2013;
special prize for architectural concept at Estonian Concrete Society annual competition "Best concrete buildings 2012", 2013; Baltic Brick and Roof Award - winner of the public building category, 2013; Best Culture Prize, 2012;


Raekoja plats 2, 20307 Narva


4,680 m2


Completed, 2012


The University of Tartu


Kaido Haagen


Science & Education, Awarded, Interior Design, Landscape and Urban Planning, Public


Public, University, Square, Urban, Landscape & urbanism, Awarded, College, Public space, Urban planning, Educational

Narva is a border city between Russia and Estonia. Its baroque old town was destroyed after II WW. The college is built to the area of Narva’s no longer existent Old Town with the main façade opening towards the Town Hall Square. New university built into destroyed old town area records both the absence of the Old Town and it’s rebuilding. In front of the building is a square, marking the site of the former stock exchange building and creating main entrance to the college.

Main idea is to clearly mark the historical volume of the stock exchange building. New building consists of two conceptual parts – first part is stock building reconstructed as a void and second part is the real building. Therefore, the architectural solution of the College records both the absence of the Old Town and it’s rebuilding.

The proposal of the architects reconstructs stock building on its original place in detail, but as a formwork – an empty mould. The mould defines the building destroyed decades ago. Absent building has left its trace on the body of new structure. The imprinted façade is cast of white concrete, while the other three sides are made out of brick. Vaulted cellar under the square is reconstructed as an exhibition space.

The interior of the building is compact – its purpose is to create an academic yet non-formal environment. Spacious foyer was solved as large steps to create a suitable background for the students’ interaction outside the lectures. Inner circulation has been arranged around the courtyard.