Through reusing and rediscovering, the uniqueness of South Estonia is highlighted and people learn to value the existing space.

The architectural residency VARES (crow in English) in Valga emphasises the valorisation of space and meaningful sustainable spatial creation, thus highlighting the local distinctiveness of both the city and South Estonia more broadly.

The Story

In the travelling residency of spatial artists, we move from one place to another in South Estonia - exploring, collecting, building and maintaining. The aim is sustainable spatial design - we will create a lifelong education programme using existing resources and combining new techniques with the old and tested ones to offer an alternative to today's smart and digital-centric architecture.

We value cross-border and intergenerational cooperation and work with European spatial experts to highlight local values and specificities. The residency involves experts from a wide range of disciplines, from anthropology to engineering.

VARES presents an opportunity for spatial creators - whether they are artists, architects, construction masters, biologists, anthropologists, theorists or anything else - to take time out and focus on durability, which is often not possible in everyday practice. By reassessing, collecting, experimenting, building and maintaining, new ways of creating space sustainably can be found. It is important to invest in a lifelong education programme for every space creator, using existing resources and combining new techniques with old and tested ones. In this way, we can offer an alternative to digital-centric architecture, as well as make a spatial contribution to the city of Valga. Knowledge and skills will be enriched by cross-boundary, cross-community and cross-generational cooperation, and by invited spatial experts to highlight local values and specificities.

The Experience

The residency will focus on fostering manual skills and experiments in spatial design. In 2024, VARES will host a variety of creative people, who will end their residency with a work or event.

In the workshops and winter/summer school taking place in 2024, those interested will be able to learn forgotten and locally specific techniques to make efficient use of available resources. In a world of limited opportunities, this is an increasingly valuable skill!

We believe that the most sustainable way forward is to invest in existing resources. Therefore, one of the aims of the residency is to create a warehouse of materials, the toolbox of the future, to give new life to old and worn-out construction supplies. The first testbed for the use of materials will be the residency house, which will store, layer by layer, the contribution of each resident and workshop participant. Over time, it will become a house museum of slow practices.

The longer-term aim of the project is to create a permanent spatial design residency in South-Estonia, focusing specifically on local (spatial) challenges.

The Impact

In active collaboration with local and international spatial design experts, local authorities and the public, we will rethink the space of South Estonia and look for more sustainable solutions to promote the region. We will also strengthen architectural cooperation in the Baltics and with the Nordic countries.

Advocates: Merilin Kaup, Ulla Alla, Triin Reidla, Mari Möldre, Margus Tammik, NGO Eesti Noore Arhitektuuri Selts

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