Tartu Kesklinna School Extension


Tartu City Government


2500 m2

Invited competition

2005, 1st prize



Competition team

Maarja Kask, Karli Luik, Ralf Lõoke

Design team

Maarja Kask, Karli Luik, Ralf Lõoke, Kristiina Arusoo

Graphic pattern



Annual Architecture Award of the Architecture Endowment of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia 2008


Best Building of the Year in Tartu: Best Extension/Reconstruction 2007

The Tartu Kesklinna School in middle of Tartu old town is built in three stages. The first building in art nouveau style was designed by Tartu city architect Arved Eichhorn and completed in 1912. The Soviet period added a new building unit designed by Udo Tiirmaa in 1965. Yet, the most recent unit and restructuring of the whole school house was completed by Salto Architects in 2007.

Firstly, the new extension aimed to fit into the existing intense historical urban landscape by taking a modest position on the street view. However, its aims were bold as their project brought the main entrance of the school behind the house and away from the busy trafficked street. Hence, the extension offers an active backyard court and spatial program with out-door leisure areas and open-air class. Overall, the spatial program is re-arranged to create a friendly environment for different people, that expresses in approach to different historical eras of architecture. Moreover, even the use of materials indicate an egalitarian recognition to everyone as opposed to the outdated hierarchical value systems that educational architecture often represent. In order to keep up a vital spirit through the year, the facades are covered with happy blueberry leaves patterns.