A masterplan for Estonia

A new Eco-town being planned for the Paljassaare peninsula near Tallinn in Estonia aims to put the Baltic state firmly on the green map. EcoBay is being designed by Copenhagen-based architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen, in close collaboration with international multi-disciplinary engineering practice Buro Happold and Møller & Grønborg Landscape Architects.

The city, which will overlook the Baltic Sea and will be built over the next 15-20 years, is planned to be home to around 6,000 people. It will be constructed on 481,000 m2 of land and will use a combination of wind farms and combined heat and power (CHP) systems to run its schools, houses, shops and businesses – even surplus energy from a nearby wastewater facility will be exploited. 
Much of the site lies on reclaimed land and this, along with the prevailing climatic conditions and its position next to the Baltic and the Nature 2000 reserve, create a special set of conditions.  The design has therefore focussed on the natural environment on the site, and has been developed to enhance the biodiversity already present, while creating landscaping and nature areas to deliver a high quality development where residents can live, work and play.
“The site has huge potential, especially given its proximity to both the city of Tallinn and the Nature 2000 reserve,” said Lesley Dinnett, project leader for Buro Happold. “The intention is to create a modern, multi-functional, mixed-use development containing all the facilities and services needed by a vibrant community, as well as housing and we are proud to be helping to create a truly sustainable town in Estonia.” 
Buro Happold is providing Schmidt Hammer Lassen with environmental, infrastructure, marine, transportation and structural engineering solutions, as well as specialist sustainability advice and climatic computer-simulated models for the masterplan.
As the name suggests, the whole concept is driven by the need for sustainability, with the planning design minimising the need for motorised transportation. A mix of vital functions will all be located within a mile of the centre and transport infrastructure, specifically, will be addressed in detail. A tramline is one of the solutions under discussion.
Meanwhile, staggered building heights will maximise the potential for both capturing solar gain and minimising the heat loss caused by overshadowing and dunes are to be constructed to protect against the ravages of bitter Baltic winds.
“Climactic studies have very much been part of the planning process, to ensure a sustainable basis for the new community,” said Dinnett. “And some of the houses in EcoBay will achieve as much as 70% energy reduction, against similar sized traditional homes, through consideration of orientation, materials, water use and power and heating sources.”
“We are convinced that we must find solutions to the challenges we have in our society – both social and environmental,” said Morten Holm, partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen. “How do we create a sustainable masterplan? How do we ensure a diverse city with an appropriate social mix; and a city which is active around the clock? And how do we create buildings which are open to the outside world? These are some of the challenges we have been working to solve with EcoBay.”
And solved they will be, while such developments raise questions as to how such ordered towns can grow organically into the future, EcoBay is looking to fulfil its promises and shine a light on a greener future for Estonia.

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