Estonian National Museum
Tartu, Estonia

The Estonian National Museum, charged with housing Estonia’s history and natural heritage, would serve to delineate new directions for cultural and ecological transformation of the Tartu region, in which it is located. More than a collection of objects, the ENM complex would generate culture and trigger memory.

At the periphery of this region, in between town and countryside, the new ENM complex demanded design thinking at the scale of the territory. Through a series of strategic excavations, plantings, and topographic sculpting, the entire ground has been claimed as part of the ENM complex.

An elevated slice of the landscape jutting out of the ground marks this place of importance. The building is peeled up to reveal what is hidden, to expose and frame a history that is continuously being written and re-written. The facade and roof are constructed from the ground out of which the building rises, a local aggregate of stone and rock, cut and polished to signify the importance of the land. It is a non-hierarchical plane that is lifted towards the street, simultaneously flat, yet of considerable height, allowing a view onto the distant horizon.