Vaksali Square


Kino Landscape Architects

Project team

Mirko Traks, Henn Runnel, Karin Bachmann, Tõnis Arjus (architect of the city of Tartu)


Indrek Lensment (Tinter-Projekt)


Vaksali 6, 50409 Tartu


6,628 m2


Completed, 2017


City of Tartu




Awarded Projects, Landscape and Urban Planning, Public Projects


Public, Refurbished, Square, Urban, Tartu

If one considers the gates through which one arrives to Tartu the railway station is becoming increasingly important as the Estonian railway system continues its modernization. The station itself was renovated in 2012 but the square inf front of it remained a characterless field of asphalt that as an expanded part of the street running parallel to the railroad felt particularly hostile towards people arriving by train. With the help of Kino landscape architects Tartu has reformed this environment – the practical solution is now on a human scale and easy on your eyes as well as your senses.

Local authorities have pointed out that their aim was to create a square that would compliment the renovated station and would become part of the structure of the urban environment of Tartu. The new design was modelled according to the small park that historically was situated here. The renovation process brought with it several heated discussions as for instance many entities saw the creation of extra parking spaces as more important. As the architects have recollected – it was not easy proving that such reorganization of traffic was not aimed at harassing drivers but giving priority to a more human urban space. For the city this became a part of a wider goal of improving the urban environment with pedestrian and cyclist traffic in mind.

The project included the renovation of the drainage system, creation of new lighting, renovation of the roads and sidewalks. The project added additional light traffic paths, the parking was reorganized and parking area for bicycles was added. The entire process was led by new design ideas for modern day traffic control and organization. The architects point out that various sets of rules are merged in the design – on the one hand, the strict order refers to the past (trains, schedules, punctuality), on the other hand, there is some disorder or controlled abundance within and behind the illusion of order reflecting the real imagery of a train ride with its flowy meadows and thick woods. The central square is articulated by the greenery and the seating nooks between them. The space is structured according to the logic of movement in the order of priority – the priority is “man-bus-car”. The structure also considers the main directions of people’s movement and the dimension of maintenance vehicles.