Rotermann’s Old and New Flour Storage

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The 1,5 century-old Rotermann’s Quarter, a former industrial area for food production, is located between the Tallinn’s old town and the port. The most of the Rotermann’s quarter was owned and operated by Baltic-German family the Rotermanns from the middle of the 19th century up until the annexation by the Soviet Union in 1944. The quarter continued as a nationalized factory for food production throughout the Soviet period. The production line of bread was privatized in 1991 when occurred the restoration of the independence of Estonia and existed at the same place until 1997, when the line moved to the outskirts of city of Tallinn.

The quarter was full of atmosphere in the mixture of the half-fallen industrial buildings, which attracted a famous film maker Andrei Tarkovski to film “Stalker” in 1979.

The area was completely deserted between 1997 to 2003, then started an ambitious urban regeneration project. The approved detail planning calls for adoptive re-use of existing limestone buildings under heritage protection as well as insertion of new buildings amongst in order to create “live-work” and pedestrian-friendly environment right at the city centre, supported by 400 parking lots underground.

The Project

On-going redevelopment takes place between the existing buildings, one of them was the Old Flour Storage from 1904. The whole project was imagined as an “extension” of the existing. The new volume was to form a plaza as a new focal point of the quarter.

The competition brief was clear, asking a solution for three volumes; the Old Flour Storage with 2 additional stories, the New Flour Storage and the Atrium connecting the two. Ground floor is for retail and the rest is for offices.

Our approach was to relate and strengthen the character of historical quarter through finding and adopting the character of the surroundings. For facade articulation we have abstracted proportion of wall versus window openings as a character of old industrial buildings. For main facade material Cor-ten Steel was chosen for its durability thanks to unique property of self-protection and its texture fitting to the existing surroundings of rough surfaces; limestone walls, brick lintels and rusted steel details. It is to pay homage to the area’s industrial past.

The New Flour Storage is to be a ‘ Communication Wall’ between offices and the plaza. The windows consists of three sizes; 75cm x 75cm, 2m x 2m, larger ones over floor height. The small ones are to frame the views as well as to bring fresh air, the middle ones are to relate to the human scale, and the biggest is to provide the panorama view of the plaza and the Old Town. The cantilevered bigger windows breaks the homogeneous rectangular outline of the building and offers special place among office space for meeting room or communal area with panoramic views. The atrium was designed as “air” between two volumes of strong characters, providing necessary circulation in everyday use and evacuation routes.

The Existing and Extension

The 3-storey Old Flour Storage’s original wooden beams and columns was replaced by reinforced concrete structure at some point in the Soviet period as well as added one more story by silicate bricks.

The limestone facade was under the culture heritage protection, so that we were required to restore original window and door openings and remove the silicate bricks of later addition. Thanks to the sound foundation of the existing building it was possible to use for supporting 2 more stories. The extension was designed with combination of in-situ concrete slab and steel frames. The new steel columns were placed at the top of the existing concrete columns. The gable roof was framed of steel structure (HEA profile) which was anchored to the band of concrete tie created at the top of the existing limestone wall.

The light weight steel stud was used to make the exterior wall and aluminium windows were inserted according to the existing window’s location.

The atrium roof bridging the old and new was designed with steel square profile, as well as glass wall of aluminium profiles was supported by steel frame.


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