Bathing culture is part of the human history in every waterfront city. A public beach is a special type of public space, which must offer rest and moderate physical activity for everyone.

Emajõe City Swimming Pool bathing spot on the left bank of the Emajõe River in Tartu has been a popular summer resort among local residents. The goal of the project was to modernize the city beach and make it more multi-purpose by improving accesibility and adding new qualities and functions, while keeping current ones by preservation of the existing natural situation.

Area concept “You are here!” notes the location in a high-quality environment, with plenty of activity, providing good rest and well-being. The design language is a hybrid of old boat fore and its opposite from round line. Combined with the triangle, the circle creates familiar location marker on the maps.
The obvious example of this is the pin-shaped swim dock, being also practical, allowing the creation of wooden sunbathing platforms as well as a swimming platform on the river. There is a shallow pool in the river for children and a separate bathing area for adults, both of which continue the design language of the platforms. The swim dock takes into account the flow direction of the river and creates a swimming pool with a calmer current. The whole range of wooden and metal details used in the beach area is being derived from this motif.

The influence of the coronavirus can be seen in all the designs that have a temporal link with the period of the pandemic. Wooden platforms of the Emajõe City Swimming Pool allow being on one’s own, separating into smaller groups. The beach is divided into nooks, each one with a seating and sunbathing platform and play equipment. Children’s playground is spaced out rather than concentrated in one place. This creates places equal in terms of the scope of activity, but different in essence.

Creating play equipment, it was kept in mind, that a child’s imagination is much more developed than that of an average adult. Wanting to encourage this, rather than limit, the climbing frames have a simple form to stimulate creativity as much as possible and match the design style of the specific project. A child can create a suitable play space for himself. The climbs are with different capabilities according to the age of the climber/player, creativity, physical characteristics and level of training. Colorful, eye-catching climbing frames, inspired by those used in the Soviet-era, add a vertical dimension and allow children to both exercise and play abstract fantasy games.

The volleyball court and sports equipment are located separately. The latter is concentrated in exercising pockets and designed for different target groups: calisthenics equipment, outdoor gym and separate equipment for the elderly.

To get away from the beach, for a twilight break, a designed journey between the bushes allow to get away for a moment from the noise, to be protected from the sun. A boardwalk is created in the shrubbery according to the existing plants and landscape features, while taking into account that the thicket should be removed as little as possible.

In the conditions of general urbanization, there is an increasing need to promote healthy and active lifestyle in an urban space close to nature and bring additional amenities to recreation areas. To find the best solution that benefits people and preserves nature, specialist advice was followed. Estonian Nature Fond advised about bats, swimming possibilities were discussed with winter swimmers and the movement laboratory of the University of Tartu and the Association of People with Mobility Disabilities of Tartu helped to conceptualize an inclusive urban space.

When modernizing the beach area, it was taken into account that the area would have various free leisure opportunities for vacationers of different ages, and accessibility was improved significantly – access roads for walkers and cyclists have been built, and people with special needs have convenient access.

We consider it very important that sustainability, nature-friendliness and balanced development go together and make people’s lives better. The design solution is logically and seamlessly integrated to the existing preserved situation. Various measures were used in the design of the water structures and an engineering firm was involved to prevent possible negative effects to aquatic life and affect the flow of the river as little as possible.

The success of the renovation of the Emajõe City Swimming Pool once again emphasises the importance of good team cooperation. People from different fields worked together, enriched each other with different knowledge and covered every question that might rise during the process.

The beach area has been well received by the residents and guests of the city as it offers leisure opportunities for all age groups and by providing winter bathing opportunities, it can be used all year round

Landscape architecture: Kino Maastikuarhitektid OÜ
Engineering parts: Tinter Projekt OÜ Indrek Lensment
Water structures: Inseneribüroo Urmas Nugin OÜ
Builder: Lars Laj Eesti OÜ
Partner on behalf of the city of Tartu Eda Põldma
Estonian Nature Foundation Lauri Lutsar
Photos: Mana Kaasik, Jaan Sokk

Location: Ujula tänav 102, Tartu 60504, Estonia

Design year: 2021

Year Completed: 2022


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