A Super Transformer - Elering Office Building / molumba

© Tõnu Tunnel © Tõnu Tunnel
© Tõnu Tunnel © Tõnu Tunnel

Text description provided by the architects. Technically, Elering’s (national transmission system operator for electricity and natural gas) office building is a reconstruction, an extension. Although everything is new, the small remaining part of the former structural frame came to define the building’s location as well as its overall height and width. It is actually the old building extended by three times, a simple rectangle with two curious islands in the middle of the offices located along the perimeter. The former atrium has become a secluded inner courtyard balanced by the second enclosed and highly secured control centre in the middle part of the extension.

© Kalle Veesaar © Kalle Veesaar

Viewed from the street, the building is carefully hidden behind another house and a vigilantly protective fence. It has no connection with the urban fabric, instead it links to another infrastructure – the powerline network covering the entire country. This is the brain of the powerline structure monitoring and administrating the vitally important circulation.

Ground Floor Plan Ground Floor Plan
First Floor Plan First Floor Plan
Second Floor Plan Second Floor Plan

It is like a curious electrical substation with detached resemblance to the specimens seen on random street corners. Albeit a manned structure, it is basically a separate world, unapproachable and inward-looking, that seeks no spatial contact with its surroundings and needs no further justifications for its existence.

© Tõnu Tunnel © Tõnu Tunnel

The architecture is masked and it becomes a technological aside almost revoking itself. Thus, the main building’s aesthetics is marked by totality with a profoundly technical and stern exterior where the dominating elements include sparse verticals protruding in triangles that function as passive elements to protect from sunlight. And behind them, there is a black and monotonous concrete rectangle with a somewhat boring pattern of identical windows – the super transformer of Mustamäe modernist residential district.

© Tõnu Tunnel © Tõnu Tunnel

In stark contrast, the human scale is revealed in the interior where a recreational area extending over two floors comes to frame the inner courtyard decorated with shade plants. The wide steps connecting the floors create an air of openness and provide the space for undefined activities. There is wood, timber formwork concrete surfaces, pendant lamps made of recycled insulators as well as pipes and cables firmly padding the ceilings.

Longitudinal Section Longitudinal Section

The rigid totality of the exterior conceals also some semitones – the transparency of the ribbing varies by angle with the static state displaying unexpected vitality. The temporal dimension is enhanced by the planted climbers that will hopefully take over the building and gradually dip the flashy blue in green. In the north-west corner of the plot on the other side of the car park, there is a somewhat autonomous walking path. It seems that here the detachment and totality of the infrastructure occasionally intersect the human and natural elements, albeit with reservations, not seeking for dialogue or humbleness. 

© Kalle Veesaar © Kalle Veesaar