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  • Viljandi’s new hospital and health centre

    An international architecture competition in the very heart of Estonia

    A signpost to the future of the health care and social system

    The architectural solution and smart planning of a hospital undoubtedly play a very important role in saving patients’ lives and ensuring that their treatment is a success. As such, Viljandi Hospital has launched a competition to find the best team to face the many and varied challenges – some of them rarely encountered – in creating our new complex.

    Planned to open in Estonia’s capital of culture in 2023, the new building of Viljandi Hospital and Health Centre is far from being just another new hospital. It is much more than that. There may not be many of us here in Viljandi County – just 50,000 at last count – and even though we are 160 km from the Estonian capital Tallinn and 210 km from the Latvian capital Rīga, we are making health care history. You now have the opportunity to be part of that.

    At the same time as the hospital and health centre is being designed, the health and social system for our entire county will be restructured. But it is bigger even than that: a truly unique project, the first of its kind, in Estonia as a whole, and probably anywhere in the Baltic region. Its aim is to bring all of the links in the very long chain of treatment and social services together symbiotically under one roof and to get them working, promptly and flexibly, as one team to save people’s lives. We want to take the management and quality of medical services to a new level. We will not settle for anything less. Working with the best architects, we want to transform Viljandi Hospital – which was founded in the mid-19th century – into a complex that acts as a signpost of innovation in the social sphere and field of health care for the development of the hospital network throughout the surrounding region. Following the success of our hospital, the plan is to build centres with similar concepts in other Estonian cities, and perhaps even beyond.

    The architectural competition for the new building of Viljandi Hospital starts on 8 September. Take part and work with us to change the history of medicine!

    Priit Tampere

    CEO, Viljandi Hospital

    • Location Viljandi, 3D model

    • Building footprint 6500m²

    • Footprint below ground level 8445m²

    • Total floor space of new building 23 000m²

    • Car park 250 spaces

    • Height Up to 19 metres


    The main aim of the architectural competition for the new hospital and health centre of Viljandi Hospital is to find the best integrated spatial solution for the building, which must be guided above all by the following three expectations:

    Firstly, the new building, whose total area across all floors will be around 23,000 m2, must fit within the unoccupied parcel of land in the historical heart of Estonia’s folk and cultural capital, Viljandi. The building must be in harmony with the symbols of the city: the ruins of the 13th-century castle of the Livonian Order perched high above the picturesque lake below; its two churches; and the original red-brick water tower constructed 100 years ago. Competition entries are therefore expected to design the public space surrounding the hospital in an attractive and inviting way, including smart solutions for traffic and landscaping that are in line with the look and atmosphere of central Viljandi.

    Secondly, the plans for the new building must support, from the outset, the project that has already been launched at Viljandi Hospital, whereby all of the parties engaged in the provision of health care and social services who previously worked independently of one another – scattered throughout the old hospital or even in different parts of town – have been brought together under the same management. We expect those who submit entries to provide a vision of how the hospital, via the planning of its thoroughfares and public spaces, can be turned into a logical intersection that allows specialists to run into one another and talk more often and that enables services at different levels to be promptly and continuously intertwined. Solutions are also sought for making optimal use of space in the hospital and health centre.

    Thirdly, Viljandi Hospital wants the external appearance of the new building and its visual interior solutions to eschew classic hospital aesthetics, instead promoting positive expectations and a positive attitude to life. For example, the design of corridors and waiting rooms should encourage people to lead healthy lifestyles and urge them to take care of their health by e.g. sharing information on the tests, physical training and health care support services offered at the hospital.

    There will be other challenges, of course, all stemming from the objective of creating an innovative hospital and health centre with the best possible interior solution.

    You can download the detailed competition brief here.

    Key competition dates

    • Start

      Launch of competition 11:00 on
      8 September 2018
    • Information day

      12:00 on 25 September 2018.
      More information...
    • Deadline for the submission of Stage 1 works

      11:00 on 1 November 2018
    • Deadline for the submission of Stage 2 works

      11:00 on 28 January 2019
    • Announcement of the winning entry

      11:00 on 28 February 2019
    • Doors open


    Priit Tampere

    Chairman of the jury | CEO, Viljandi Hospital

    Oliver Alver

    Architect, Union of Estonian Architects

    Sakari Forsman

    Architect, Finnish Association of Architects

    Marje Metsur-Benzel

    Representative of family physicians

    Enno Parker

    Project director, State Real Estate Ltd

    Olav Remmelkoor

    Chief Architect & Head of Architecture Department, Viljandi City Government

    Emil Urbel

    Architect, Union of Estonian Architects


    Viljandi County is home to around 50,000 people, of whom approximately 20,000 live in Viljandi itself. The city is 160 km from the Estonian capital Tallinn and 210 km from the Latvian capital Rīga.

    One of the historical symbols of Viljandi, in the very heart of the city, is the ruins of its ancient castle, the foundations for which were laid as far back as the Viking era. The settlement that sprang up on the northern side of this stronghold, which was awarded town rights by the ruling order of knights, was first mentioned in 1283.

    Viljandi was one of the most importance Hanseatic cities in the region during the Middle Ages. It was also one of the most significant centres in Estonia’s national awakening alongside St Petersburg and Tartu.

    Innovative-mindedness and a desire to be the first to launch new initiatives have been characteristic of Viljandi through the ages. It was one of the first towns in Estonia to obtain sewers (1906-1911) and a permanent water supply (1910-1911). It was also the first town in the country in which a modern town hall was constructed (1931).

    The historical wooden buildings in the centre of Viljandi were not demolished during the Soviet era. Instead, new apartment buildings were constructed in the Paalalinna and Männimäe districts.

    Viljandi today has lost none of the charms that make it so special. The Viljandi Folk Festival, which was first held in 1992, transforms the city into Estonia’s folk music capital for four days every summer.

    The idea of establishing state secondary schools was born in Viljandi, and it was here that the first such school was opened, setting an example for all those that followed.

    Viljandi is quite literally the most ‘up-and-down’ city in Estonia, drawing people in from elsewhere in the country and abroad for the sweeping views down to the lake from the castle ruins perched high above on its hills. It is nevertheless a compact place, and a very green one, making it an ideal city in which to bring up kids.

    Viljandi is also an attractive place to live for its cultural scene: the Ugala Theatre, the Estonian Traditional Music Centre and its many music and dance festivals.

    * Photographs from Visit Viljandi image bank

    Terms and conditions of competition

    • A contract for the designing of the building shall be entered into with the winner.
    • Participants must involve an architect who is professionally certified within the meaning of the relevant regulation of a Member State of the European Union or a country that is a signatory to the government procurement agreement of the WTO.
    • Participants must involve a medical technology specialist who has at least three years’ experience and who has drafted at least two sets of principal designs for medical technology.
    • Competition entries must be submitted in either Estonian or English. The working language of the design stage shall be Estonian. We recommend that foreign participants find a cooperation partner in Estonia.
    The officials terms and conditions of the competition and guidelines can be accessed by clicking on 'Tender documents'.

    The prize fund for the competition is 60,000 euros.

    • 1st place: 20 000 euros
    • 2nd place: 15 000 euros
    • 3rd place: 10 000 euros
    • Two incentive awards valued at 7500 euros each