Arvo Pärt Centre
Architect: OFIS
Status: Competition (2014)
Visualizer: Studio
Scale: 1.976 ㎡ Medium
Types: Cultural, Cultural center, Dance center

Is it a pine tree?

Volumes stem from a central trunk and spread outwards in a playful dialogue with the surrounding forest. The building’s form is neither static nor fixed in orientation. The design is a layering of both inward-looking and outward-looking spaces. These layers are designed with the surrounding layers of the tree canopy, dividing the full height of the building into separated levels. The lower ground floor level is embedded within the terrain and acts like a tree’s root system, stabilizing a lighter, wood frame structure above. The central passage of the basement level is integrated with the changing levels of topography and a natural through-way cut into the topography.

Is it a tree house?

The building’s volumes span between the pines of the forest.  It is now a manmade construction interwoven into the natural growth of the forest. The idea of a tree house defines floating volumes that hover above the ground, within the canopy of the surrounding trees. The uppermost volume rests just above the line of the canopy and acts as a lookout towards the sea.

Upper levels begin to simultaneously frame views to the natural surroundings. Balconies and terraces extend from the central volumes into the pine forest, in a cantilevered, perching position, sparking a dialogue between interior and exterior spaces. These vantage points frame the forest, and at the top level, frame a view of the sea.

Is it a traditional house?

The low hanging gable roofs of the building are inherent to traditional and authentic Estonian wooden houses. Patterns of vertical wooden slats employed in the design of the building are also seen in these traditional homes.

Smaller spaces are designed as a warm living environment, simply expressed in the linear, gable roofs. Architectural connotations with residential and domestic spaces are used to frame the spaces as a nurturing environment, a centre of growth and development. The stacking elements inspire forms of smaller-scale intimacy, but simultaneously contribute to a larger idea and purpose. Free-form plans provide a dialogue between small volume spaces and the larger central core. Where sound protection is necessary, enclosures are sealed, but maintain a visual connection to the surrounding programs. Smaller scale pockets of program define an edge that is permeable to the building’s surroundings.

Is it a nest?

Stacking forms make cuts into the pine forest, oriented in a centripetal motion to create a nest-like form within the forest. Centrifugal forces carry implications of authenticity, and concentration towards the building’s centre. Surrounding spaces have a subordinate importance to a central idea. The nest-like form creates a meeting point in its centre, and grand interior surrounded by playful, stacked volumes.


The top levels of the building create a tower with views to the surrounding landscape. Below, the vertical wooden members of the building are camouflaged within the pine forest. The terraces throughout the different levels of the building frame views with changing orientation throughout the forest’s canopy. Stacking volumes maintain the scale of a house and reach the height of viewing tower.

The height of the building is disguised by the verticality of the surrounding trees. The wooden structure ascends upward with the growth of the pine forest.

Is it floating bridge?

Large cantilevers make the building appear to be floating. The vertical support and central core is disguised by the building itself as well as by the surrounding forest. Volumes can appear as bridges, as cantilevers, or as a helix spiraling upwards.

Structurally, the higher levels of the building act as a bridge and are supported by two pedestals, allowing the landscape to flow underneath.

Spatializing sound

Research spaces, concert halls, exhibition space, spaces for classes, lectures, and seminars are each organized around a central courtyard-atrium. This introverted form creates spatial concentration and intimacy. The design is connected to the form made by the sound waves of the music of Arvo Pärt. When these sound waves are translated into a spatial print, the result is an introverted form, centrifugal, and gravitating towards a central atrium.

Reduction sketches

The sketches of Arvo Pärt suggest a reduced essence of his music. The spiraling triangular form and centralised nature of the building are designed to reflect the interrelationships between Christian values and the music of Arvo Pärt.

Competition: Arvo Pärdi Keskuse | Team: Rok Oman, Spela Videcnik, Janez Martincic, Andrej Gregoric, Beatriz Rodriguez Sanchez, Paloma Rubio Rodriguez, Antonio Rodriguez Rueda, Darko Ivanovski, Michele Albonetti, Tomaž Cirkvenèiè, Vanessa Abram, Eva Toom, Diego Umari, Lorenzo Conti | Consultant: Transsolar, Inforce Project, Milko Lazar | Post date: 06/07/2014 | Views: 2.728