BAUA Announces Baltic pavilion design competition for UIA World Congress of Architects in Copenhagen winners

March 6th, 2023

The competition for the architectural concept of the BAUA pavilion, which will be exhibited at the UIA World Congress, ended on February 13th. The contestants were required to submit a proposal for the exhibition concept, installation, and content, as well as a souvenir to be given to each visitor.

The 28th UIA Congress, dedicated to the theme "Leave No One Behind", the topic is the central, transformative promise of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals. This promise – and premise – represents the commitment of all UN member states to reduce the inequalities and vulnerabilities that leave people behind and undermine the potential of individuals, and humanity. Below this theme, the Baltic countries together decided to investigate further the recently initiated topic of Holistic Renovation of Modernism Housing. The initiative aims to promote quality holistic modernism housing renovation in European and non-European countries as well, discussing the most relevant topics, highlighting the challenges, sharing the experience and presenting the best practices of holistic renovation of modernist housing.

After inviting Baltic architects, designers and others to submit ideas for the exhibition in an open competition, BAUA received 18 projects. They were evaluated by an international jury, consisting of 2 representatives of the Baltic Union of Architects each: Architects Association of Lithuania: Ruta Leitanaitė, Marius Dirgėla, Estonian Association of Architects: Mae Köömnemägi, Johan Tali and Architects Association of Latvia: Dina Suhanova, Juris Poga.

The work "Parallel Worlds" by Estonian architect Karl Pops was selected as the best project. The author says - “We are at a crossroads. In the Baltic states, like anywhere with a large stock of deteriorating housing from the modernist period, we have to choose how to address it going forward. The bones are good, the rest is not. There is a world in which the status quo continues, where piecemeal renovation of Soviet-era apartment buildings falls largely on individual owner cooperatives while the neighbourhoods stay isolated. But there can also be a world in which housing is recognised as critical infrastructure that needs a holistic vision and investment to ensure its sustainability. Which world do we want to live in?” The jury have said that “Parallel Worlds” not only shows the look from inside to outside, but also gives the feeling of how narrow the living zone is. There is a lot of information and the research is greatly done. All of that shows a high quality of the submitted work of Karl Pops. The best idea for the BAUA exposition at the UIA Congress World Exhibition will be further detailed and completed by working together with the author.

The second-best work at the BAUA pavilion competition was chosen "Bloc Party" by Estonian architect Iiris Tähti Toom. The jury was impressed by its fashionable design, realistic external view, and ability to raise awareness of landscape architecture, urban planning, and block housing issues. The author describes his idea and addresses the problem: “"Bloc Party" builds on the intersections of both the Baltic and broader conference’s themes, examining what -- and who -- is too often left behind by urban development in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The installation challenges the popular depiction of modernist housing estates as placeless, anachronistic, and inhospitable vestiges of the Soviet regime. Arming the audience with X-Ray vision, international visitors are offered a rare view into the inner workings of large modernist housing estates, casting light on both the physical and social structures that uphold these communities.” Although the overall design of the pavilion is great and attractive, installation costs might be a problem in the realisation, says jury. 

Helin Kuldkepp and Laura Liis Vilbiks' "One Click Away" was awarded third place. The author says about her work: “The renovation of Soviet era apartment housing has become a pick-and-choose process. A few options have come to surface, such as add-on rooms or balconies, extra car parking, lift add-ons, and the classic building extension to lengthen the mass even further. It has all been done, why even bother anymore? We have the solutions, all we need to do now is act. So, how do we have an actual holistic view and approach to this never-ending problem?” For exhibition space the idea is intriguing, and her submission poster stood out for its well-designed aesthetic. Jury mentioned that the work might be too time consuming for the visitors. 

The first three places were awarded with a monetary prize of 1200 EUR for the 1st, 800 EUR for the 2nd and 400 EUR for the 3rd place. The development of pavilion design, realisation and installation in Copenhagen will take place from March to June. From 2nd to 6th of July the exhibition will be open to all visitors. To view all the submissions please visit the Facebook page here.

1st place, “Parallel words”, Karl Pops

2nd place, “Bloc Party”, Iiris Tähti Toom

3rd place, "One Click Away", Helin Kuldkepp and Laura Liis Vilbiks

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