Introduction

In order to find the best comprehensive city space solution for Port Artur trading quarter (Port Artur 1, Port Artur 2 and Port Artur recreation and shopping centre being built by Pärnu River), the Union of Estonian Architects, supported by Port Artur Grupp and Cultural Endowment of Estonia, organised an international architectural competition in 2006. The works entered in the competition were judged by a jury in the composition of Estonian recognized architects Andres Siim, Kalle Vellevoog, Kalle Komissarov, Toomas Paaver, Jaak Huimerind, Ants Tolli; Pärnu City architect Ülar Saar and substitute mayor Mart Alliku as the representatives of Pärnu City Government; Kaido Kruusoja and Viljo Vetik as the representatives of Port Artur. The jury of the Union of Estonian Architects chose project “Flood” unanimously as the best work. The authors of the project are the architects of the Italian Architecture Studio Interzona and Romolonatiassociati Francesco De Luca, Paolo Gori, Romolo Nati, Antonio Capasso, Giuliani Macinelli Bonafaccia and senior research fellow Helen Sooväli from the Estonian Institute of Humanities of Tallinn University and the planner Kerttu Kõll from ENTEC.



Two main factors were considered and followed upon creating the conception of the new centre: geographical location and the historical development of the region. The inspection of historical city maps established that initially there were two or three small islands near Pärnu riverbank and these islands were called the Holms. Later, the islands grew in with the riverbank. In the second half of the 19th century, there was a little cove on the area under planning and Pärnu Rowing Club operated in the same place. The area turned into an industrial region in the 1920s and a small port was established in the 30s which in its turn was the continuation of a railroad station located in the neighbourhood.

Construction on Pärnu riverbank is problematic due to its natural and geological peculiarity. The basic problem could be the fluctuating water level in Pärnu Bay and the River Pärnu. The water level can relatively quickly rise up to +2.50 m above the sea level (Kronstadt zero). The quick rise in water level might cause a danger of flooding. The planned cove and flooding of the river enable to give a new perspective to the project according to which it would be able to use the flood water of the river by giving the area located inside the river a multi-purpose possibility of use around the year. Thus, a promenade and a large city square have been planned on the riverbank where open air events (concerts, exhibitions, performances, etc.) could be organized, and in winter the cove could be used as a skating rink (see fig. 2 and 3).

The project begins with the area between the planned building and the river. The recreated cove forms part of the public area which can be used as a port as well as a public space with planted greenery. From the south, the riverbank shall be bordered with a planned building complex and from the east with a new planned bridge (see fig. 1).