The central square in the town of Tõrva, Tõrva tower and bus station, ,Estonia. Used materials: Penter pavers Red Rough and Grafit Rough from Aseri plant (Estonia). Architect: Arhitektuuribüroo Arhitekt Must OÜ (Mari Rass, Ott Alver, Alvin Järving). Designer: Novarc Group AS. Client: Tõrva Linnavalitsus. Constructor: AS Merko Ehitus Eesti. Photographer: Arno Mikkor.
© Arno Mikkor / Wienerberger AS

How a tar field became a jewel

architectum issue renovation

The central square in the town of Tõrva, Tõrva tower and bus station, ,Estonia. Used materials: Penter pavers Red Rough and Grafit Rough from Aseri plant (Estonia). Architect: Arhitektuuribüroo Arhitekt Must OÜ (Mari Rass, Ott Alver, Alvin Järving). Designer: Novarc Group AS. Client: Tõrva Linnavalitsus. Constructor: AS Merko Ehitus Eesti. Photographer: Arno Mikkor.
© Arno Mikkor / Wienerberger AS

Tõrva Central Square

in Estland

The central square in the town of Tõrva, Tõrva tower and bus station, ,Estonia. Used materials: Penter pavers Red Rough and Grafit Rough from Aseri plant (Estonia). Architect: Arhitektuuribüroo Arhitekt Must OÜ (Mari Rass, Ott Alver, Alvin Järving). Designer: Novarc Group AS. Client: Tõrva Linnavalitsus. Constructor: AS Merko Ehitus Eesti. Photographer: Arno Mikkor.
© Arno Mikkor / Wienerberger AS

Products used

Penter Punane Kare and Grafiit Kare

How a tar field became a jewel

More diversity in public spaces – this dream was achieved with the redesign of the central square in the Estonian city of Tõrva. With a strong focus on the location’s history, Arhitekt Must paved a symbolic place.

How did this project in the city centre of Tõrva start?

Mari Rass, architect: The name of the town Tõrva (tõrv means tar in Estonian) has a connection with the traditions of tar production in the area. The town is located at an important crossroads, where a wooden tavern was built in the first half of the 19th century. After the building was destroyed in a fire in 1890, a tavern was built from the rubble, which remains the town’s landmark to this day. Behind the tavern and in the heart of the city is the central square, whose transformation we were allowed to realize with our design “Mulgi Resort” after a municipal competition.

Why was the central square in need of transformation?

The square was marked by a large and monofunctional asphalt field behind the old tavern building. The centre was used most successfully by cars, buses and trucks, being able to find a parking space in a self-organised system. A changing understanding of the functioning and possibilities of public space paved the way to reshaping the city centre.

How did you manage to change the use and focus of the place?

One of the special features of Tõrva is the untouched nature of the Õhne River valley right in the heart of the city. The new solution expands the landscaping even further, to the old tavern building, unifying the Õhne River valley with the centre into a whole. The contrast between the asphalt field and the dim park with large trees was abolished – the old trees were pruned and new short and tall landscaping was planted, forming greeneries for park activities. The precipice by the river was made less steep and a brick sculpture was erected, the so-called Tõrva Chimney. With its onshore flight of stairs, it attracts people in the central square to discover the primeval world by the river and to take a walk, play or have a picnic in nature.

What is the biggest upgrade of the area in your planning?

Instead of one central square, the new solution offers plurality. The landscaping reintroduced into the city centre will be made into five squares: the central square, the market square, the municipal council square, the bus station square and the parking lot. Squares with strict geometry interrupt the flow and freedom of nature. Their layout invites visitors to explore the whole city – from a distance, the next building or a beam of light draws the attention. The square is a concentration of social activities, a dense urban unit. Due to the variety, each square can be exactly the right size to fulfil its function – to host fairs, concerts and community movie nights.
 
The central square behind the tavern in the heart of the city has been turned into an attractive open urban space every season. A network of wire ropes resting on four steel poles has been pulled over the square, creating a distinctive ceiling of lights. Together with the screening wall of the bus pavilion, a functional space for city events will be created. The centre of Tõrva is dense, compact and due to the diversity of the spatial conditions, it is always bustling with life. 

"We used red clinker paving stones for the pavement in the squares and contrasting black clinker paving stones to draw the Mulgi pattern, a traditional pattern from the historic southern part of Estonia.“ - Mari Rass, Arhitekt Must OÜ

What was the reason for the use of bricks?

The many different squares create new synergies in the public space and thus a democratic and flexible environment. The new clinker paved areas with orthogonal edges overlap with the existing landscape and create clearly delineated squares. Central square, parking lot square, playground square, rural community square – they all play their role in the larger whole.
 
We used red clinker paving stones for the pavement in the squares and contrasting black clinker paving stones to draw the Mulgi pattern, a traditional pattern from the historic southern part of Estonia. We chose the same combination for the stairs by the reservoir. We also added the red clinker bricks with a smooth surface for the chimney sculpture. 

The central square in the town of Tõrva, Tõrva tower and bus station, ,Estonia. Used materials: Penter pavers Red Rough and Grafit Rough from Aseri plant (Estonia). Architect: Arhitektuuribüroo Arhitekt Must OÜ (Mari Rass, Ott Alver, Alvin Järving). Designer: Novarc Group AS. Client: Tõrva Linnavalitsus. Constructor: AS Merko Ehitus Eesti. Photographer: Evelyn Parv.
© Evelyn Parv / Wienerberger AS

Penter Punane Kare - Estonia

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