Son of a Shingle - Vaksali pedestrian bridge and subways

The pedestrian intersection in Vaksali, a district of Tartu in Estonia, was completed in 2021. Designed by architects Sille Pihlak and Siim Tuksam (PART architects) as a „scenic ensemble“, the bridge and two tunnels have become an attraction. According to the Estonian Tourist Board, the crossing is one of the most popular photo spots in the city. The design is currently on the shortlist for the Mies van der Rohe Award for European Architecture, which will be presented this year. What is special is that only one other Estonian project has been shortlisted so far.

The two architects comment on their design as follows: „Movement in the urban space should be smooth and easy, but ideally the environment should also offer a variety of experiences. This will reduce cognitive distances and perhaps encourage more people to walk. That‘s why we decided to form the bridge and the tunnel into a single landscape ensemble that doesn‘t dominate, but still stands out. It encourages people to experience it directly and not admire it from afar.

To achieve the desired result, we used an unexpected material for the tunnel and the bridge railing: ceramic shingles. We not only wanted to create a form, but also to emphasise the elements of human scale in the urban infrastructure. The 100,000 shingles are coloured in four shades, from silver to honey, depending on how much UV radiation falls on them. This allows the grey bricks to blend in with the concrete elements on the outside, while inside the tunnel there is a warm atmosphere that is enhanced by the curved shape of the shingles and the lighting solution.“


Related articles:

Issue 1/2016

Residential ensemble in Zurich brings balance to its urban environment

As a large-scale urban figure, the new residential building in the “Maaghof City West” area in Zurich echoes the commercially grown structures of its surroundings. The Basel-based firm of architects...

Issue 4/2017

Brick-faced concert hall

St Mary’s in Bochum, formerly a Catholic church dating from the 18th century, has become the centre of the new Bochum music forum “Anneliese Brost Musikforum Ruhr”. The architects Martin Bez and...

Issue 11/2010

Luther Birthplace Museum, Eisleben

With a radical restoration of the house where Martin Luther was born and the construction of two new buildings, Springer Architects have enabled an extensive reworking of the museum concept and...

Issue 06/2022

New museum building stone by stone

In Leiden, Happel Cornelisse Verhoeven Architecten restored and extended the museum building De Lakenhal and show that brick construction in the Netherlands has a tradition and a future; and that with...

Issue 01/2021 Architecture photo

Bricks Berlin Schoeneberg: Revitalization of a former post office area

On the Hauptstrasse in Berlin Schoeneberg Graft Architects revitalized the historical post office premises, expanding it with two new buildings and converting the original rooftops for commercial...