top of page

papalampropoulos syriopoulou


Status: Competition proposal
Program: Cultural centre

Year: 2023
Built area: 27,500 sqm
Location: Tartu, Esthonia

Architect: Leonidas Papalampropoulos, Georgia Syriopoulou

Team: Demetra Bitini, Eleni Mavridi


This is not a building | The new cultural center of Tartu should not be a solid building complex but an urban artifact integrated in the life of the city. The paradigm of large shopping centers standing detached from the street network with single glass facades has failed.

The planning strategy should re-invent the building type not as an autonomous object that breaks with the structure of the city and keeps its inhabitant at a distance, but as an urban complex of inclusivity. The resident should not open a door and enter a mall type building but should be able to experience the contradictions and contrasts of the real city through the process of wandering its streets. "Eyes on the Street" (Jane Jacobs) depicts an inclusive city that learns from its weaknesses and encourages the wandering and unpredictable social interaction of the different subjects that make it up.


Arcades | A central element of the design is the introduction of a cross-shaped network of covered streets based on the familiar European urban typology of arcades, aiming to enhance the process of the resident's flanery around the city. The central multi-functional entrance area of the complex is transformed from an interior space into an urban contributor that conveys the experience of the city into the new cultural center.

One can wander the arcade, shop, pass their time in the different cafes and bookstores, or dine in the arcades’ small bistros. The function of the arcades aims to eliminate any institutional character, making the visit to the museum or the library a direct extension of the urban experience.

The intention to imprint the axis of the historic Kauba street in the design becomes the driving principle for the definition of the plan. The Kauba axis is incorporated as part of the cross-shaped heart of the complex, the interior arcades which divide the plot into four sectors-gardens corresponding to the functional modules of the program.


Enclosed Gardens | The different sectors form green rooms – gardens based on the following themes:

(a) the Archaeological Garden – defined by Poe-Vabaduse-Kaube Streets - is an extension of the Archaeological Site, aiming to integrate the excavations as part of the garden experience.

(b) the Arts Garden – defined by Poe-Kunni-Kaube streets - is an extension of the Museum area and has the possibility to host outdoor exhibitions

(c) the Garden of Events – defined by the streets Vabaduse-Kaube-Uueturu - is a direct extension of the large gathering spaces.

(d) the Garden of Knowledge – in direct extension of the Library area defined by Kumni-Kaube-Uueturu streets.

Openings along the external perimeter allow easy access and visual connection to and from the gardens ensuring the communication of the green rooms with the external streets and the internal network of shops, but also ensure a level of intimacy that is necessary for the emergence of the public sphere.


Satellites | The functions are distributed in the respective sectors ensuring their access both from the arcade and from the external streets thus enhancing the experience of wandering around the city. The morphology of the buildings follows the functional requirements of the program by composing autonomous spatial entities (satellites) which are attached to the cruciform layout of the covered walkways.

Cultural Heritage | The complex tries to reinstate the complex and diverse experiences of the city through the activation of building blocks and continuous street facades, interpreting in this way the urban characteristics of the area according to the functional requirements of the program.

bottom of page