Architects: 3+1 Architects
- Area: 11950 m²
- Year: 2020
Lead Architects: Markus Kaasik, Mihkel Meriste
- Design Team: Kerstin Kivila, Gert Guriev, Siim Tiisvelt, Pirko Võmma
- Clients: Estonian Academy of Security Sciences, University of Tartu
- City: Narva
- Country: Estonia
Text description provided by the architects. The main idea of the building was to fit into the surrounding environment, also creating a completely new context for the city of Narva. The architectural concept consists of two parts. The first deals with the connection between the typology and the location of the building, and the second with the form in which the strict uniform structure of the building and the contrasting flexible change of the landscape meet.
The study center bears a symbolic significance to the Republic of Estonia, the city of Narva and to the given educational institutions. In addition to its relevance in terms of internal security and regional policy, it is also notable for its unique solutions – it is simultaneously a large-scale timber construction and a concrete building.
Soon after the architecture competition results were announced and the design process was begun, it was clear that our main challenge would be ensuring the fire safety requirements of the timber construction. On the other hand, using timber also had a symbolic meaning for the Academy of Security Sciences, as they had recently completed an applied research that formed the basis for long-awaited amendments to fire safety regulations in Estonia, providing constructional solutions for erecting large-scale public timber buildings.
As the Narva Study Centre of the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences is an educational institution with public functions as well as a temporary home for its residents, the building needed to have both a dignified and a cosy feel. Although a building of a “paramilitary” institution, it blends perfectly into the urban environment around it.
The two lower floors of the building rely on a concrete load-bearing structure while CLT wall and ceiling panels provide the load-bearing elements on the three top floors. It was clear already during the competition entry design process that this kind of building typology favors a constructional division where concrete floors form the foundation and timber construction is the optimal solution for the recurring elements of the residential floors.
Although protecting timber in the local climate during construction requires particular care, in terms of time, pre-fabricated timber elements still provide a considerable advantage. The entire timber structure was assembled within three months and could have been completed even faster, had it been necessary. The façade of the residential floors is clad with timber and the construction of the floors made use of altogether 727 cross-laminated timber elements produced in Estonia with its total net volume of 2113 m³, making it the largest wooden public building in Estonia.
The building considered the requirements for the near-zero energy building while the north-south orientation also provides good living conditions. The new study center as a whole is marked by low energy consumption as the renewable building materials, compact and economical volume, locally produced solar energy and the waste heat recovery from the grey water recycling system ensure low energy consumption throughout the building’s life cycle.
The accentuated terraced forms of the landscape in front of the study center open as well as hide the functions within. The landscape in front of the public zones is level or gradually descending and starts to rise again in the middle of the building thus sheltering the spaces in need of concealment. The terraced landscape around the building provides accentuated areas for various outdoor activities while also serving a protective function along the perimeter of the building.
The building consists of a public sports center, semi-public seminar areas, also training, resting and work areas closed to the public as well as the private residential area. The basement floor accommodates a 25m eight-lane swimming pool, training hall, gym and washrooms. The landscape next to the building shelters the service vehicle parking area and the 25-metre shooting range together with 180° tactical shooting area. The street level accommodates the lobby, classrooms, work and resting areas. The private residential spaces with common kitchen and living room areas are in the atrium in the middle of the building above the study center on the second, third and fourth floors.