Case Study Tartu 1

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Core Question 1: In how far does this project reveal your concept of future landscapes?

The future of landscapes is closely connected to history. Over 100 years of mining activity have left scars on landscape, ecology and local society. The project deals with industrial landscapes that have important place in local history, economy and identity. As the idea of renewing industrial landscapes is quite new to our society, this project illustrates well how the problem can be solved. It is very important to design new projects that would be sustainable in the future, but it is as important as the latter to think about already existing elements in our landscape. We often use landscape for our benefits without thinking about the possible consequences. We use our land to extract goods like coal, oil, stone and metal, but little do we think about how the landscape looks after. Our case study works on landscape restoration after the mining process to give the site new function and purpose. More specifically we deal with renewal of the waste from oil shale industry, so called "ash hill".

Landscape and/or urban context

History of the area starts with coal mining in 1922, when the town Kiviõli (Oilshale) was founded. Town with almost 7000 people is almost entirely known by its ash mountains – results of oil shale mining. As the oil shale gives 90% of Estonian energy, the mindless mining has always somehow been silently approved. Nowadays the two artificial mountains (96m and 116m) are strongly pressed into people’s memory as identity carriers, monuments to mining, ´´troublechilds´´ of environmentalists, playground for children and tourist attractions. Being part of the local industrial heritage and identity the mountains have already their place in history and landscape. But in that way they represent the darker part of mining. In future the idea is to keep the technical landscape heritage and at the same time combine it with new functions.

Cultural/social/political context

The town itself - Kiviõli - is an industrial town in Ida-Viru County in Estonia with a population of 7000, mostly Russians. The region itself is known most of all as an industrial site. Industrial activity in the region is still active; oil shale is excavated to its full capacity. But nowadays there are strict regulations about environmental impacts. In the last years there have been thought about the enormous ash hills that are now so characteristic and usual in East-Northern part of Estonia. During a survey amongst local population, many found that ash hills are part of the region’s history and serve as interesting landmarks. But maybe these ´´hills´´ could serve as something more than just hills. There have been thought in redeveloping the slopes for example for skiing and snowboarding as Estonians are a true winter sportsmen and are in need for more means for those activities. Thus there are made regulations that instead of just piling up ash waste into one huge hill, it could be placed according to a plan made already before the depositing takes place, so afterwards it won’t be so difficult to model the future landform.

Spatial analysis of area/project/plan

The development works began already in 2001 and the destination was to change ex- industrial area into nature and human friendly hill. Developing Kiviõli Adventure Tourism Center has besides international competition also a sport and wider social meaning- center which offers the quality health-, adventure- and extreme sport activity. The wish is to create from ex ash hill one of the biggest tourism magnets in Viru County, also why not in hole Estonia, and through that help Ida- Virumaa to progress. The second important destination is the wish to develop local life- environment and make the ex- industrial heritage active again. Longest down skiing slopes and snowpark, motocross track, all-year free opportunity to make health-sport and skiing, 2,5km long track for mountain bikes will be evolved. It is also planned to build many adventure attractions such as playcar track, adventure park, ATV tracks. The building work is still going on right now, it is planned to open in 2012.

Analysis of program/function

The main functional characteristics is to change totally use of the area. The area will become a totally new function- from industrial area into recreational park. As the idea is to transform former tehnogenic wasteland into usable area with hints to its former function- disfunction, the design, the equipment and plan for the future expresses very easily the main aim and the purpose of this project.

Analysis of design/planning process

As all the money for the project was received from the government it was very important to cooperate with many different funds and of course the government itself. 2002 - The report of environmental impacts and geotechnogenic survey - Preresearch of Skiing Center’s business plan 2003 - geotechnical surveys and slopes calculations 2004 - Closing of the Kiviõli Waste Dump - Detail planning - Stopping erosion’s effects and vertical planning 2005 - Installing temperature sensors and monitoring - Researches and experiments - Preproject 2006 - I stage of building process - Thermal researches 2007 - Analysis of center’s practical use - Closing of the ash hill and designing the hill for future adventure center

Analysis of use/users

Oil shale industry and the miners gave birth to those ash hills. The use of this area was very spesific and was used mostly only by few society layer representers. After closing the site, the user’s domain has grown. For example people can visit the area in frames of excursions or independently while enjoying or studying nature. Soon it is possible to visit and use also the adventure park, with that developer hope to expand the user’s domain even more, already on an international level. As the people who use that area have changed, has changed also the function of it. Before it was a closed industrial area, now it is opened pleasant sporting and free time area for everybody.

Core Question 2: What is the role of landscape architecture in this project?

The whole project is about the landscape architecture. Developers had to deal with different problems during the process. Landscape architecture is needed to be assessed in this case. Reuse of dead spaces is a very important issue, giving new life to formal industrial areas that otherwise stay without function. This project is a good example where we can see how with the aid of landscape architecture dead space can become a pleasant public area.


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