The design of the Brussels’ spaces for the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU

  • Ann Mirjam Vaikla
  • Tüüne-Kristin Vaikla
  • Urmo Vaikla

Location: Brussels, Belgium

Authors: Urmo Vaikla, Tüüne-Kristin Vaikla, Mikk Meelak

Vaikla Studio in collaboration with Platvorm

The Vaikla Studio team: Urmo Vaikla, Tüüne-Kristin Vaikla, Ann Mirjam Vaikla, Kaia Tungal, Elo-Liis Parmas, Kadri Tikerpuu

The Platvorm team: Mikk Meelak, Raul Kalvo, Marti Kaljuve, Mikk Pärast, Andreas Wagner, Agnes Ratas

This visual design concept presents Estonia as an innovative e-state with a digital economy, mobile opportunities and inventive solutions. In an urbanised Europe, green Estonia boasts attractive, untouched natural resources that are skilfully combined with the opportunities of the digital realm. The seamless combination of technology and creativity, pulsating in a smooth modern rhythm, is a message that the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is presenting through its ‘Unity through balance’ motto.

TERRAIN (Lounge, Justus Lipsius). The Justus Lipsius building lounge has been designed as a meeting place for modern urban residents with a concept that is inspired by nature. The installation signifies unspoiled Estonian nature – the wild forests and the sea. The three-dimensional tapestry’s texture by Annike Laigo conveys the shapes of sea waves, sandy beaches or the seabed, evoking images of a Nordic landscape on the shores of the Baltic Sea. The smart Click & Grow plant containers have been designed and produced in Estonia, and they are complemented by Rapide armchairs by Martin Saar inspired by garden wheelbarrows.

LIGHT SAUNA (Presidency area, Justus Lipsius). The spatial design of the Estonian Presidency elaborates on the traditional cultural context of Estonia. The socialisation space is inspired by the Estonian sauna, where important matters are usually discussed on the benches of the steam room. Saunas have long been a sacred place for Estonians, who traditionally go for some steam and whisking in high temperatures (around 70-100° Celsius) every Saturday. In the midsummer, whisks are made from birch branches when the moon is waning. A stove topped with piled stones (keris in Estonian) is the heart of the sauna – the more stones, the better the steam! This light sauna features the modern design of felted stones (by Annike Laigo). A hot sauna in a bright Nordic summer night makes for a unique cleansing ritual for anyone who experiences it. At midsummer, the sun only sets for five hours in Estonia.

YELLOW ROOM (Presidency area, Justus Lipsius). The room for bilateral meetings has a more intimate feel and glows with the light of the Estonian midsummer. The Nordic summer landscape is dominated by the bright yellow of rapeseed, which takes over large swathes of fields between forests. The photographs by photographer and artist Arne Maasik have recorded the intricate structure of the thicket landscape. These fragments of nature are complemented by (Estonian) proverbs to communicate the essence of an archetypical Estonian.

GREEN ROOM (Presidency area, Europa building). In the lounge of the Presidency area, Estonia will present its design history with the famous plywood chairs and folding seats of the Luther furniture factory, complemented by some modern design pieces like the Architect’s Desk by Aap Piho and felted stones by Annike Laigo. (Estonian) proverbs offer an insight into the Estonian identity. Using traditional methods, various elements of the Estonian and European flags have been hand-woven into an 8-metre tapestry. Publications on historical and contemporary architecture, furniture, design, and art expand on the cultural background of Estonia.

FLOW (Atrium, Europa building). Estonia has beautiful nature; Estonia is the flagship of the digital realm. What does nature look like through digital algorithms? Flow is a digital artwork that visualises the dynamics of nature and allows viewers to interfere with the forces of nature – catch a virtual gust of wind, direct a body of water that has been converted into code, or play safely with a buzzing swarm of bees. In the absence of visitors the flow will continue on the digital wall by itself, based on the wind speed measured at the Ristna peninsula weather station on Hiiumaa Island, while conveying the dynamics of nature through digital algorithms.