A modern office building in the heart of Tallinn

Tallinn, Estonia
Client: Focus Kinnisvara OÜ
Commission: 2006
Completed: 2009
Size: 12,000 m2

Viru roundabout is considered to be the central point in Tallinn. This is the point from which distances to other Estonian cities and locations abroad are measured. The roundabout is situated between Tallinn’s medieval Old Town, the historic Rotermann industrial quarter and the modern city centre, and thousands of cars and pedestrians move through it every day. Viru roundabout is the focal point in the centre of Tallinn and it is difficult to imagine a more intriguing location for an office building.

Beside the roundabout, the office building called Metro Plaza, which was designed by KOKO and completed in 2009, replaced the historic Rotermann department store. The classicist facade, which dates back to the mid-19th century, was under heritage protection, and therefore, had to be preserved and integrated within the new construction as well as possible. After intense debates between various stakeholders, a decision was made to use a design where the historic facade and new office building are clearly separate.

Metro Plaza stands behind the two-storey classicist facade, and is a modern and rational office building where commercial and service spaces are located on the lower floors and office spaces with plenty of daylight on the upper floors. The entire new section of Metro Plaza is surrounded by a glass facade featuring a unique technical solution, which, with its rounded corners, tinted glass and asymmetry, softens the impact of the facade in the surrounding city space. A colourful installation using modern lights has been integrated into the glass facade, and this enlivens the city during the night hours and makes it possible to organize light shows during the autumn and winter seasons.

The critics have accused Metro Plaza of facadism and feel that the historic facade of Rotermann’s department store and the new office building do not form an organic whole. In some sense, from an urban construction perspective, they might have a point; nevertheless, it is indisputable that Metro Plaza is a building with a strong unique character.

Text: Carl-Dag Lige

2009 Tallinn City Government / Prize for architectural and design lighting in the city