elii [oficina de arquitectura]


003 · PARNÜ

Domestic landscapes


Europan VII - Sub-Urban Challenge, Urban Intensity and Housing Diversity.

International Competition. Runner Up.

The master plan combines an urban development strategy with a landscape operation, providing a solution for the new city limit for Pärnu: a transition between the city and the sea, in a balance between the natural shore and the existing fabric.

Main urban strategy: (1) Detection of water areas and the rare flora zones. Natural spaces are respected in order to preserve their ecological values and environmental qualities. (2) Identification of ‘areas of opportunity’ that define potential urban growth. (3) Connection of plots. A main road sews the areas, structuring the whole, and guaranteeing mobility through the site. The main road will act as the guideline for the future development. (4) A strip of services and facilities is settled along the main road. Local shops, public services, sports and cultural facilities, etc., activate the neighbourhoods and create a new linear centrality for public and private investment. (5) Secondary streets articulate the connectivity within the city and complete the proposal. Existing paths on site are respected, reinforced and complemented with an alternative cycling road network.

Housing units ‘grow’ around a free network of open public spaces, scattered all over the site. A kind of ‘alive skins’ wrap the constructions, providing a landscape and energy strategy for the buildings. These ‘green envelopes’ vary according to the different orientations capturing sun in winter and providing shade in summer. This way, citizens and tourists, wrapped in this ‘domestic landscapes’, will have the chance to inhabit and experience Pärnu’s environment. The proposal tries to increase the experience of the user’s daily life within the city, avoiding the restrictive moralizing severity of the modern rational city planning.

The house is understood as a dugout space in the landscape. Greenhouse skins build a special filter that changes constantly during the year. A deep alive lattice that protects users’ privacy, while defining a customizable domestic scenery for different daily life practices (eg: a jogging track along this spongy closure, a space for a barbecue, to have a rest, etc.).

The closing mechanism allows three positions, three types of relationship with the site: (1) Outer layer open + inner layer closed, leaving the plants out, and creating terraces in the perimeter. (2) Outer layer closed + inner layer open, integrating the vegetation inside the house, in a continuous space. (3) Both layers closed, configuring a greenhouse perimeter.

The different typologies look for the exploitation of the use of the perimeter, as well as to give the user the maximum flexibility for a future transformation of his home. For this reason the houses are thought as a catalogue of appliances that shape the organization by a simple combination of different functions. The tower typology also incorporates the greenhouse system, building a spongy filter, where most of the functions take place.



1. City limit = landscape. A double (urban + landscape) strategy is required to materialise Pärnu’s new city limit.

Landscape-urban fabrics.

2. Public space = landscape. Let’s think environment as a shared sphere in between nature and artefact.

Environment is a public space.

3. Camouflage. Architecture is not in dialectic opposition to environment. Architecture is a part of our artificial landscape.

A balance between the shore area, and the built city.

4. Domestic landscapes. Our homes are the sceneries of everydaylife.

We inhabit domestic landscapes.


  • Architects:
  • Uriel Fogué + Fermina Garrido + Marcelo Faiden
  • Collaborator:
  • Javier Chicharro (Student of Architecture)
  • Developer:
  • Europan + Pärnu City Council
  • Site area:
  • 21,5Ha
  • Study area:
  • 5,3Ha
  • Date:
  • 2003
  • Location:
  • Coastal quarter, Pärnu, Eesti