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The ever evolving Estonian housing market

EKYL takes Housing Europe delegation to three exemplary study visits in Tallinn

Tallinn, 25 June 2018 | Published in Energy, Urban

As part of the second meeting of our Ad Hoc Working Group in support of countries with housing systems in transition, our Estonian member, EKYL organised three study visits in respective projects in Tallinn that showcase clearly the ever-evolving character of the Estonian housing market. We put together a summary of the main lessons learnt.


Study visit 1

Exemplary Multi-Apartment Building Renovation in Estonia -campus of Tallinn Technical University (TTU)

The visit took place at the campus of Tallinn Technical University (TTU), where the University carried out a scientific renovation of its family dormitory, built in 1986, into a nearly zero-energy building.

The project is unique in the Baltic and Nordic countries and the building will serve as a prototype for renovating similar apartment buildings, constructed in Estonia up to 50 years ago.

The renovation was made possible by applying prefabricated modular panels, which are used to insulate the walls and the roof of the building. This ensures a high quality of construction and significantly shortens the period of works on site. The objective was to test the manufacturing process and functionality of the new modular panels, to achieve a drastic reduction in energy consumption, and to modernize the utility systems as well as the overall interior design of the building. These new solutions can lead to significant changes in the wider construction market.

In addition to exterior walls, the prefabricated insulated elements were installed also on the roof. The building has a heat recovery ventilation system, solar collectors for heating water, wastewater heat recovery and a solar power system, which will ensure energy efficiency at nearly zero-energy level.

You may follow the progress of the renovation here  

In the second part of the visit, the group checked out Apartment Association Vilde road 70 in Tallinn, a 9-storey multi-apartment building built in 1970, where the full-scale renovation has been carried out using 40% reconstruction grant from Fund KredEx. The renovation process was managed successfully, while inhabitants kept living in the building during the whole renovation process.

Study visit 2

Estonia’s largest real estate development: a total makeover from soviet-time building to one of the fanciest apartment buildings in Tallinn  

The project made crowdfunding history in Estonia with 1300 investors putting together a record-breaking 1.5 million euros to support the VEGA project. Estonia’s largest real estate development has now also become Estonia’s largest crowdfunded project based on both the funding amount and the number of investors participated.

With 297 apartments, VEGA is also unique in Estonia with its public areas in the buildings like a sauna complex, children's playroom, playground, party hall and laundry room, all available for free to the inhabitants.

The building is an excellent example how the city landscape with energy inefficient building stock in post-soviet countries can be transformed into modern and efficient urban living environment using the best modern architectural, technical and financial tools.

Video about the Vega Residence

Study visit 3

Municipal housing in Tallinn, an example of a “Teachers’ Home”

The third study visit brought attendees to "The Teachers' Home": a newly-built apartment block in the suburb of Lasnamäe, the first nearly-zero energy apartment block in Tallinn and specifically built for teachers.

The City of Tallinn recognised that kindergarten and school teachers were unable to access affordable housing, and commissioned the construction of 75 apartments (1 and 2 room apartments with balconies, 35 - 55sqm) on City-owned land.

Teachers, both single and with families, can rent their apartment at 5.21 euro/sqm + utilities, for the duration of their teaching career. Currently, it is mostly young women staying in the Teachers' Home.

Housing Europe attendees were given a tour of the space from top to bottom. Most impressive was the modern design that managed to allude to Estonian history and tradition, as well as the level of energy efficiency in the building.

Construction costs came in at 1,152 euro/sqm (tax incl). From the outset, energy efficiency in design, construction and maintenance was a requirement. The apartment building is both passive and nearly-zero, with an A classification, using 100 kW/phr/sqm.

Features that contribute towards this include a heat recovery ventilation system, district heating (which is compulsory in Estonia), solar panels on the roof, re-use of water through rainwater and wastewater harvesting and manually operable exterior sun shades.

As well as green spaces outside and a bicycle shed underground, the building holds storage rooms, children's' playrooms, a large communal space, and is accessible with an elevator.

The Teachers' Home is 100% financed and owned by the City of Tallinn, meaning there is no possibility of privatisation. The City also recognises that doctors and nurses are in need of affordable housing and so plans to address this are currently underway.