The Architecture Programme Manager of TalTech and his team won the architecture competition for the new Viljandi hospital
Jaan Kuusemets, the Architecture Programme Manager of TalTech, was one of the winners of the architectural competition for the new hospital and health centre in Viljandi. What were the main challenges of the project and how did a man who initially learned sea management and wanted to become a watch officer grow up to be a top architect?
You studied at the Maritime Academy – how did you make your way to architecture?
At the end of high school, I did not know exactly what I would like to do next. It just so happened that I joined the Maritime Academy with my classmates, which today belongs to TalTech. Before making a decision, I also considered architecture, painting, and computer graphics, but I did not take the tests for those.
When I started my third year at the Maritime Academy – somewhat unexpectedly even for me –, I decided that it would be wise to graduate. Then, I was at sea for about a year and a half, but I did not feel like it was my calling. Therefore, I joined an architecture firm – at first, as an assistant to the technician and architect. While working at the firm, I became more and more interested in architecture and some years later, I went to study it.
What was the challenge in the project for the new hospital in Viljandi?
Everything was a challenge. Designing a hospital / polyclinic / health centre of this size to an existing, well-established, and rather narrow urban environment is a great challenge in every sense. We had to think about the large-scale terms of reference and spatial programme, consider the principles of modern process-based medical technology, and find a way to combine architecture and all of the functional and technical requirements.
Who from TalTech was also involved in the winning project and how?
I was the only one from TalTech that was involved in the winning project. However, there were also two of our alumni and one current student among the recipients of incentive bonuses, which is an excellent result.
What are the benefits of having engineering knowledge in architecture?
Engineering knowledge will certainly benefit an architect. It is very important that the architect understands the constructive logic, knows the advantages or disadvantages of different constructions and materials, and is familiar with the basics of building physics and the general principles of technical systems. It is also very important that the architect is able to discuss (and, if necessary, argue) with the engineers – they have to be confident and know how to demand the best solutions from the engineers. This applies to both the design process and the supervision of the construction.
‘Elu’ (Life), the winning project of the architectural competition for the new hospital and health centre in Viljandi
Viljandi Hospital in cooperation with the Union of Estonian Architects and Riigi Kinnisvara AS published the winners of the architectural competition of the new hospital and health centre of Viljandi: architects of DAGOpen OÜ – Jaan Kuusemets, Jose A Pavón Gonzalez (bakpak), and Enrique Vallecillos Segovia (Planho Consultores) with their winning project ‘Elu’ (Life). The 23,000 m² innovative complex to be built in the centre of Viljandi will be completed in 2023.
The jury said that they assessed the functionality, design, and efficiency of the hospital services, as well as the overall flexibility of the architectural quality. The building has been skilfully adapted to the context of the city of Viljandi and the traffic solution, as well as the car roads and pedestrian routes, have been organised very cleverly.
It is a strong solution where a large building is hidden in a quarter. The spatial solution of the building is easily adaptable to the changing needs.
The aim of the international architecture competition was to find a smart solution for Viljandi’s new hospital and health centre that would fit into the city environment and set the pattern for the future of the Estonian health and social system.
The architectural competition was conducted in cooperation with Viljandi Hospital, the Union of Estonian Architects, Riigi Kinnisvara AS, the Tartu University Hospital, family physicians, and hospital staff. The Cultural Endowment of Estonia granted the prize.