The Hobujaama Heart
Harm Jan Grinwis
The Hobujaama Heart is a redesign of a prominent yet overlooked square in the Tallinn city center.
This project is the result of a collaboration between the Tallinn city government and Tallinn University of Technology. The goal of the project was to redesign Hobujaama square, a sad and empty corner in an otherwise interesting and bustling neighborhood.
Through this project, we aimed to create an interesting and interactive public space, that would entice both locals and tourists. As the square is situated between many interesting destinations, we decided to enhance the square's function as a transit location.
Based on this, we introduced a line-based wayfinding system, that literally maps out the nearby destinations on the floor of the square. This seamlessly connects public transport, pedestrians, and local businesses. Wherever applicable, screens, benches and other element "pop out" of the lines on the ground.
Together, this system directs the flow of Hobujaama square: the Hobujaama Heart.
public space, urban planning, wayfinding, city
- Does your design take social and cultural challenges and human wellbeing into consideration?
The design is aimed at improving the quality of the public space in Hobujaama square. The square is crossed by thousands of pedestrians each day, moving to and from work in the nearby office centers, or going for lunch in the adjacent neighborhood. The square also features a major traffic crossing where pedestrians, bikes, cars, and trams mix. Despite that, layout of the square is not set up to accommodate these traffic flows, and can be downright dangerous during peak hours.
Our project includes a redesign of the infrastructure of the square, which transforms the area into a pedestrian-focused public space, while leaving space for the trams and cars. It also introduces a separate bike lane, something the area currently lacks. We also added the necessary basics of a good public space, such as places to sit and playfully interact with the environment.
These improvements will create a much more pleasant space for the thousands of daily visitors, both locals and tourists.
- Does your design use principles of distribution and open source?
While the project has been specifically designed for Hobujaama square, the core of the idea, the line-based wayfinding system, can be replicated in any other public space to add character and clarity. The system is highly adaptable to its surroundings.
The full execution proposed in this project, with lines integrated into the ground and lighting up, is perhaps too demanding to easily employ somewhere else. For this project, we decided the added light would elevate the otherwise dark and somewhat suspicious place. However, the lines and wayfinding system could also be replicated using painted lines. The layout and typography of the project can be freely spread.
The benches designed for this project are kept simple on purpose, and can be manufactured locally by any company with any expertise in concrete.
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