AZPML arvo part center competition estonia designboom
having reached the shortlist round for the competition to design the arvo pärt center in estonia, architecture office AZPML has proposed ‘intensifying the sensorial’: a collection of gable-roof volumes which frame and accentuate environmental qualities of the surrounding forest. the scheme is based on a traditional local building type, the ‘kiidi’, which is multiplied and distorted in a variety of ways to provide programmatic specificity and meet diverse functional needs.

AZPML arvo part center competition estonia designboom
a series of gable-roof building volumes is composed among the laumatsaala forest
image by estudio berga & gonzalez / all images courtesy of AZPML



dedicated to the prominent estonian composer arvo pärt, the center’s design draws from musical aspects and other phenomenological qualities existent in the laumatsaala forest site. beyond sounds produced by wind in the trees and abundant wildlife, the architects recognize sensorial events including, ‘the winter’s sun’s raking glare, filtering through the pine trees, the luminescence of the night sky during the northern lights, the springy stepping on the foliage, the glittering of the sun over the sea, the whiteness of the snow, the teardrops of melting ice, the profiles of the clouds, the endless nights, the blaring sunrise, the blossoming of the daffodils.’

AZPML arvo part center competition estonia designboomskylights and mirrors on the upper portion of the gable roofs provide light and images of forest context
image by estudio berga & gonzalez



rather than reading as a single unified form, the center is composed as a collection of separate but spatially continuous gable-roof building forms. each volume is given specialized treatment to create program and experience-specific conditions, in regards to light, reverberation, temperature, and views. certain portions of the roof made of skylight and mirrored surfaces, producing luminous environments with periscope images of the surrounding forest.

AZPML arvo part center competition estonia designboomimage by estudio berga & gonzalez



the variables involved in the specificity of each building block include: scale of space, pitch of roof, size of clerestory window, orientation of clerestory window, and openings of the walls. each factor is ‘tuned’ to distinguish different programmatic elements such as the library, exhibition room, archive, administration offices, auditoria, cafeteria, etc.

AZPML arvo part center competition estonia designboom

floor plan

AZPML arvo part center competition estonia designboom

section through chapel/tower

AZPML arvo part center competition estonia designboom

section through performance spaces and administration area

AZPML arvo part center competition estonia designboom

south elevation



the proposal further describes its relationship to pärt’s music in regards to qualities which transcend physical properties. led by architects alejandro zaera-polo and maider llaguno, the design team optimistically describes that its architectural proposition moves beyond, ‘the sensorial perception and its phenomenal experience, and project it towards a trans-subjective, essential state, akin to the circularity of pärt’s work. the appearance of stasis, both in pärt’s work and in the centre, exposes the more meaningful movements that occur within, the subtle changes in tonality, rhythm, texture. pärt’s compositions create a sort of mythic time, in which experiences of past, present, and future amalgamate into a single one. we move constantly between the sensorial to the phenomenal to the ontological.’

AZPML arvo part center competition estonia designboom
a resin casting of the building block composition
model by atelier la juntana





project info:


location: laulasmaa villae, estonia
client: arvo pärt foundation
competition: 2014

area: 1,600 sqm
cost: 3.5m €

AZPML team: alejandro zaera-polo, maider llaguno, guillermo fernandez-abascal, manuel eijo, iñigo arrien, pablo de sola, mintra maneepairoj
local architect: veronika valk
renders: estudio berga & gonzalez
model: atelier la juntana
other consultants: ARUP, HML