Narva College is one of the most exciting buildings in newer Estonian architecture. Elements that come together in its design include the bold signature of young architects, a very strong connection to the local urban context as well as a clear and attractive use of materials. The new architecture shows respect for the existing structures and is a sublime manifestation of contemporary architectural thinking.

Project details

Project Narva College, University of Tartu, Estonia
Client University of Tartu
Architect KAVAKAVA
Roof tiles used Koramic plain tile 301 amarant 
Facing bricks Terca Aseri red brushed
Pavers Penter Dresden and Aseri red
Floor area 4 680 m²

Narva College University of Tarta, Estonia © Urmas Alles

Narva College University of Tarta, Estonia © Urmas Alles

Narva College University of Tarta, Estonia © Urmas Alles

Narva College University of Tarta, Estonia © Urmas Alles

Narva College University of Tarta, Estonia

Narva College University of Tarta, Estonia

Narva College University of Tarta, Estonia © Urmas Alles

Narva College University of Tarta, Estonia © Urmas Alles

Narva College University of Tarta, Estonia © Urmas Alles

Narva College University of Tarta, Estonia © Urmas Alles

Narva College University of Tarta, Estonia © Urmas Alles

Narva College University of Tarta, Estonia © Urmas Alles

The history of Narva College

For bureau KAVAKAVA the task of tackling Narva College’s history-charged site – directly in front of the Narva Town Hall – was certainly not an easy one. Narva has a complex history; just before World War II, it boasted some of the most magnificent examples of baroque architecture in Estonia and was a powerful centre of the textile industry. Sadly, the war destroyed practically everything and the only building left standing in Narva’s Old Town was the very same Town Hall.
 

Respectful combination of old and new

Today, the College’s light white façade matches the appearance of the baroque trading house that once stood in exactly this place. Its architecture shows respect for the structures once located on the plot, and it is a sublime manifestation of contemporary
architectural thinking. While the building’s façade facing the square is derived from the idea of returning to the city the former trading house’s front face as a “negative” – now cast in concrete – the school behind it is a very modern space that is joined together by means of stairways and wide inclines.

Brick as a reference to the city's history

The materials used, colour combinations and surface textures play a major part in the architecture and its impact. The rust-red main building finished in brick and the light-coloured concrete main façade contrast in the College’s external appearance. "Brick was chosen because it links the building to Narva’s mighty historic red brick factories” explain the architects. As plastered façades were characteristic of Narva’s baroque Old Town, a unique solution was to coat the walls of the university with a thin layer of red-toned plaster that maintains the ease of following the texture and rhythm of bricks. The same warm shade was repeated with the inner courtyard’s paving stones, while, by contrast, the main façade’s front entryway was paved with Wienerberger Penter pavers, as their colour – as black as possible – perfectly suited the architects. The shape of the roof follows the complex logic of the building’s shape; once again, the idea of using red plain tiles was derived from the context of the Old Town. The selection of Koramic roof tiles allowed specially-shaped roof sections to be covered with greatest flexibility.

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