Physicum is the name of the new Institute of Physics at Tartu University designed by Kadarik Tüür Arhitektid OÜ with Kadri Tamme Sisearhitektuur OÜ and Stuudio Tallinn. Three Estonian architectural practices worked together to create a building that brings together institutes and laboratories which were previously located in separate buildings.
Opened on August 25 2014, the Institute of Physics stands in a big green area in Tartu’s Maarjamõisa Campus and interacts with the recent Tartu Health Care College, completed 2011 to plans by Kavakava. The architects drew inspiration from this building in determining the rhythm and colour of the building’s walls, seeking to identify a dialogue that would make two visual moments into a single urban system, a little city of science.
The nearby building’s brick façade and the sense of rhythm created by its tall, narrow windows are developed further in the Institute of Physics. Its concrete structure has been treated with iron sulphate to give it an earthy colour which is emphasised by the corten panels used in the cladding and as sunshades. The volume is divided into four blocks of different heights, forming a closed inner courtyard. On the outside it has four walls marked with a grid pattern: stringcourses sculpt the block horizontally, while modern single-lancet windows give it an upward thrust to create strictly geometric overall image.
The building’s floor plan on various different levels is based on a rational scheme, with windows overlooking the exterior or the inner courtyard and traffic regulated by a central corridor on every side. In this scheme there are 14 laboratories, several spacious classrooms, study areas and two conference halls with a total of 300 seats.
Organised on the basis of a square floor plan, the four blocks rise to different heights, as if the building were a little fortress. In opposition to the trend towards parametric shapes imagined with the aid of modelling systems, Kadarik Tüür Arhitektid offer their vision of architecture seen in terms of cross sections and floor plans, in which space is generated by superimposing the two representations. The building and the way space is organised in it are instantly comprehensible.
Design: Kadarik Tüür Arhitektid OÜ, Kadri Tamme Sisearhitektuur OÜ, Stuudio Tallinn
Project team: Villem Tomiste, Stuudio Tallinn, Reedik Poopuu, Katerina Veerde, Katrin Kapanen, Tanel Trepp, Maiu Hirtentreu, Margit Soome, Kaarel Käärman
Client: University of Tartu
Location: Tartu, Estonia
Structural design: As Tari, Pikoprojekt Oü
Interior design: Kadri Tamme, Liis Mägi, Eeva Masso
Total usable floor space: 12700 mq
Project start: 2009
Completion of work: 2014
Builder: Astlanda Ehitus OÜ
Cladding with concrete panels treated with iron sulphate and corten
Photos: © Kaido Haagen