Võru Central Square

The aim of the Võru Central Square project is to revive and enliven the historic central square of the small town of Võru.

The plan with enumerated plots of one of the youngest Estonian towns was compiled by land surveyor and cartographer Carl von Bonset in 1785. The plan was drawn with a regular street grid and right-angled blocks. The town centre was marked by a market square with a church on either side together with a seminary, bank, taverns and shops. At the beginning of the Soviet occupation in early 1950s, trees were planted on the market square to hide the churches. Typical of the age, the greenery was never maintained and so within a decade, the heart of the town became a shady park. After its renovation, the central square of Võru became once again the core of the town as it used to be during its planning – a place for encounters and leisure for locals and visitors.

The vision of the central square is divided into two – the stationary urban space or the operating system and the dynamically evolving programme marked by the development of the Urban Gadgets.
The square with its elements is based on the existing urban space and the established functionality highlighting the landmarks and the valuable trees. The operating system connects the fixed elements on the square into a comprehensive field of activity. The synergy created by the new square provides the half-abandoned buildings with new content.
The public urban space is a constantly changing event generated by the locals. The square is a programme in permanent renewal that is reconfigured and redeveloped by the residents. For the generation of new events, there are Urban Gadgets on the square – to reinvent each moment. This is merely the beginning. The Urban Gadgets will turn the operating system into an event space.

The streets and the square are brought to the same level. The zones of the square, parking area and roads are divided and marked by small sized granite paving stones in two different colours. The surface of the stone is designed to be coarse as the square is tilted and in winter smooth paving would be uncomfortably slippery in nordic climate.
The Urban Gadgets that are constantly in motion are built of steel and painted in two contrasting colours, which highlights the shape of the objects and at the same time is easily visible and recognizable. The mobility of the Urban Gadgets creates a space similar to a living room where furniture can be alertered to suit an occasion. This provides a more inviting and cozy urban space.
Plant communities have been designed for the greenery surrounding the existing large trees, resembling those of the forests surrounding the town, and so wild berries can be harvested from them in autumn. In addition to flowering plants, herbs are also planted in the planters, citizens forage lemon balm from the central square for their herbal tea.