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ZHA wins contest for Rail Baltica terminal in Tallinn

Zaha Hadid Architects has won an open international contest for a major new rail terminal in Tallinn, Estonia

The London practice – working with local firm Esplan – was awarded the €28,000 first prize and will now be invited to negotiate for the design contract with project sponsor Rail Baltic Estonia.

The competition sought sustainable and pedestrian-friendly proposals to transform an existing station in the city’s Ülemiste area into a terminal for Europe’s £3 billion Rail Baltica programme, which will create a direct train link between Warsaw and Tallinn by 2026.

The project will create an integrated 10ha hub for international, national and local rail services along with trams, buses and coaches close to Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport. A €21,000 second prize went to Tartu-based Innopolis Insenerid OÜ while a third prize of €14,00 was awarded to Italy’s DBA Progetti.

ZHA says that passenger circulation through its winning scheme has ‘determined the station’s spatial geometry’ and will ‘aid navigation and the smooth integration of bus, tram and rail lines that intersect at the terminus.’ Its scheme also incorporates ‘a modular structural system built in phases to enable ongoing operations on the rail lines throughout construction.’

Estonia’s minister of economic affairs and infrastructure, Taavi Aas, said: ‘I have been constantly informed about the developments in the Ülemiste area and in light of the works presented to the public today, I am more than convinced that the area is becoming one of the most attractive and, in terms of infrastructure, synergistic in Tallinn. A true multi-modal transport hub is emerging, with rail, bus and air traffic coming together there in the future.’

Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. Recent design contests there include the Port of Tallinn masterplan, also won by Zaha Hadid Architects in 2017 and the Museum of Red Terror won by Japanese architect Shuhei Endo in 2018.

The Rail Baltica project will create a £3 billion European standard gauge network replacing existing Russian gauge tracks connecting the three Baltic states on the edge of Europe. The continuous 950km route will be fully electrified and is scheduled to complete in 2026.

Danish practices PLH Arkitekter and COWI won an earlier contest held in 2016 to overhaul and expand the main railway station in Riga, Latvia so it can host Rail Baltica services.

Ülemiste station in Tallinn, Estonia

Ülemiste station in Tallinn, Estonia

Source: Image by Rein Urm

Existing Ülemiste station in Tallinn, Estonia