A river of bricks
One of the planners‘ main tasks was to reorganise the previously incoherent jumble of streets and public squares. KavaKava‘s challenge was to make the large public area more attractive to users and remain true to its historic background while simultaneously improving access for the surrounding city.
Aida Street forms the primary axis of the project area. Designed as a pedestrian zone, it leads from east to west, linking a newly constructed bus stop with the existing marina. Two neighbouring spaces, in front of the history museum and concert hall, combine to form a broad plaza ideal for staging open-air concerts and other events. The narrow and dark streets between the office buildings will be rendered more inviting by the installation of a glass canopy. On the east side, the square opens into a new city plaza with benches and green areas which can also be used as a marketplace or performance area for cultural events. The architects, Katrin Koov and Kaire Nømm, developed a spatial concept that joins the different, previously unconnected locations of the new part of the city by using historical references. Key to this is the river which, in the Middle Ages, ran much more closely to the city. As late as the 20th century the river Pärnu, from which the city got its name, functioned as an important trade route. The primary export was timber which was floated down river into the city. “Consequently, we used tree trunks as a central design element for the entire area,” explains Katrin Koov. The area of the earlier riverbed was marked with Dresden pavers in a half bond pattern that cleverly reveals the former course of the river, the location of the harbour, the line of the city wall with its corner tower, and the location of the church square. In this ‘river’ of paving bricks, we find occasional representations of tree trunks which increase in frequency as you near the former harbour where the concert hall now stands. Because this square has a high traffic volume, the tree trunks amongst the pavers are made of concrete instead of solid timber, with the surface made to resemble real wood. These tree trunks are arranged in orderly lines along the street only to break up the strict pattern near the new main square. The tree trunk device is also used to mark off parking spaces and pedestrian crossings.
The city development project, which entered the implemen- tation phase in 2009, has not yet been completed. At present, approximately 7,000 m2 of paving has been laid, with a total 10,000 m2 planned. The completion of the project will depend on the resolve and funds of the various participants in the project (the city, museum, concert hall, and project developers). So far, the most important structures such as the paving, benches, lighting and trees have been realised despite the very tight budget. Fountains and sculptures may still have to wait a little longer for their debut.
- Street and public square design, Parnü (Estonia)
- Aida Partnerid OÜ; City Government of Parnü
- Katrin Koov, Kaire Nømm, KavaKava
- Paving bricks:
- Terca Dresden
- Kati Vaas