Like a work of art. This is how a crossing for pedestrians and cyclists is built in Estonia

Under the Estonian name ‘Sindlinahk. Vaksali tunnelid ja sild’ is a pedestrian and cycle crossing that was built in the city of Tartu, Estonia. The structure was designed by PART architects. It is not just a piece of infrastructure. The circular shapes are intended to make the tunnel an attractive place and encourage pedestrians and cyclists to be active.

The whole consists of a pedestrian bridge and a tunnel just below it. It is a kind of hub, making it easier to get around the city. The architects gave the crossing a visually soft shape. This effect was achieved through numerous surrounds. The inner walls are decorated with one hundred thousand clinker ‘shingles’, which are arranged in a multi-coloured mosaic. The passage thus not only has an infrastructural function, but also contributes positively to the appearance of this part of the city.

The construction of the crossing was necessary because more and more cyclists have been travelling between neighbourhoods in recent years. The new pedestrian and cycle crossing is intended to enable pedestrians and cyclists to travel safely in an attractive environment.

Moving through the urban space should be smooth and easy. Ideally, the environment should also offer a variety of experiences. Perhaps (thanks to this design – editor’s note) more people will move on foot. That is why we decided to form the footbridge and the tunnel into one landscape ensemble that does not dominate, but stands out. It encourages direct experience rather than admiring from afar,” say the project’s authors.

In order to achieve the desired result, the architects reached for an unobvious material. “The ceramic ‘shingle’ was coloured in four shades, from silver to honey, and its coating makes it gently change its shade in the sunlight.

The new construction in Tartu was nominated in the EU Mies van der Rohe Prize for Contemporary Architecture for the most beautiful new architectural development in Europe.

photos: Tonu Tunnel(

design: PART – Practice for Architecture, Research and Theory(

Also read: City | Public transport | Estonia | Featured | whiteMAD on Instagram

Latest content on the site

Beauty is all around you