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Competition: Tallinn Red Terror Museum

Patarei Prison, Tallinn

The Estonian Institute of Historical Memory has announced an international ideas contest for a landmark  museum of the crimes of communism

The competition seeks ‘contemporary, attractive and visitor-friendly’ concepts to transform the eastern part of the historic Patarei Prison into a 5,000m² waterfront academy and memorial complex documenting the impact of communism and fascism on Estonia and its neighbouring countries.

The Museum of the Red Terror project, supported by the Estonian government, aims to raise awareness of central and eastern European history and memorialise the estimated 100 million victims of communist regimes worldwide. The new museum will also feature a research centre dedicated to investigating the catastrophic impact of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which carved up the region into separate Soviet and Nazi spheres of influence during the Second World War.

In its competition brief, the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory says: ‘The objective of the design competition is to find a contemporary, attractive and visitor-friendly design for the museum’s architecture, exposition and interior. This museum is one of a kind in the world. The plan is to establish it on the shore of the Gulf of Finland right in Tallinn’s city centre in the Patarei complex, which is under cultural heritage protection.’

The Patarei Prison in the Bay of Tallinn was constructed in 1840 when Estonia was under the tsarist Russian empire, and was originally known as the Peter the Great Naval Fortress.

The 17,000m² Classical building was converted into a political prison during Soviet occupation of the country and held tens of thousands of prisoners prior to execution or deportation to the gulags. It was also used to detain Jews and other minorities during the Nazi occupation of Estonia.

The structure, which was still used as a regular prison up until 2002, contains various cells and execution rooms and is protected as a memorial to victims of both the Soviet and Nazi occupations of the country.

Patarei Prison, Tallinn

Patarei Prison, Tallinn

Patarei Prison, Tallinn

The new museum will be constructed in the eastern part of the historic building overlooking the landmark Linnahall and the Port of Tallinn which is earmarked for a competition-winning redevelopment by Zaha Hadid Architects.

Proposals should consider the interior and exterior of the building including its entrances and connections to the nearby seafront promenade. Circulation spaces, exhibition areas and displays will also need to be considered.

The competition is open to both architects and interior designers and an overall project budget for the scheme has yet to be confirmed. Submissions should include up to eight A1-sized sheets featuring plans, diagrams and renderings, and a written explanation.

The overall winner will receive a £13,250 prize, and there will also be a second prize of £8,830 and third prize of £4,420, with a further £8,830 distributed between selected honourable mentions.

The deadline for applications is midday local time, 24 March.

How to apply


Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

Estonian Institute of Historical Memory
Registrikood 90013822
Suur-Ameerika 12-39
10119 Tallinn

Tel: +372 648 4962 / +372 664 5039
Email: info@mnemosyne.ee