Vision Competition

Download the Competition Materials and Full Brief

Reinventing the Mikrorayon

When you think of where your waste goes, your world starts to shrink. (Timothy Morton, 2007)

The CIRCULAR BLOCK competition explores architecture’s expressive capacity to convert waste to energy or matter via circular operations from the micro to the macro scale. 

Through the design of an urban unit that operates as a circular system in its resources and economy protocols—as well as in the cycling of its materials,—the aim of CIRCULAR BLOCK is to define new productive and socially cohesive urban models that question the traditional linear and discrete consumption and production systems in cities.

In Estonia, buildings are responsible for around half of the nation’s energy consumption and about a quarter of the country’s carbon footprint. With similar numbers in the built environment in different geographic regions, architecture’s response to provide for alternative design, construction and operational models is critical. How can microbial fuel units, anaerobic digesters, bacteria tanks, green cultivations, algae units and other building elements be retrofitted to existing housing units and the building block as a whole, so as not only function as engineering infrastructure, but also as inhabitable space? What are the aesthetic questions of infrastructure and how can such questions be instrumentalized to foster a creative design process? 

In the competition, participants are asked to reinvent the block and its buildings as mediators of environmental flows, as well as material and activity flows. How can an urban unit convert matter to energy and provide simultaneously a vital space for the community? From the micro scale—investigating material conversions—to the macro scale—analyzing the dynamics of urban exchange and environmental flows,—participants are encouraged to develop strategies and models for recirculating matter and energy based on principles of distribution and localization.

Operating at three distinct scales, the CIRCULAR BLOCK Vision Competition invites participants to consider Tallinn’s Lasnamäe as a territory to investigate design strategies that allow urban blocks to use their surface to produce food for its inhabitants, generate required energy partially off the grid, use waste for generating energy or products, increase urban density using demolition waste, or implement blockchain technology for locally managing energy or material resources, among other possibilities.

Lasnamäe, Tõnu Tunnel

Lasnamäe, Tõnu Tunnel

Proposals may be focused on one (or all) of the following topics: FOOD, ENERGY, WASTE, MATTER, and on one of the following scales: HOUSING BLOCK, URBAN BLOCK, MIKRORAYON. Competition encourages participants to think experimentally and to develop proposals that crossbreed between different themes and scales. It is also important to note that competition is specifically interested in how technical innovation has political ramifications, that is how the reinvention of the mikrorayon can substantially impact living and working patterns and offer new employment opportunities and/or new protocols of trade.

Although the competition is site-specific, the submitted concepts could be designed in a systemic and scalable way to be possibly implemented in other locations in Lasnamäe, Tallinn, or other similar urban arrangements elsewhere. The collection of submitted proposals will be assembled into the CIRCULAR BLOCK ATLAS and presented to the City of Tallinn as part of the upcoming 2022 Tallinn Architecture Biennale.

Lasnamäe. Illustrations of Leonid Volkov's manuscript. Estonian Museum of Architecture

Lasnamäe. Illustrations of Leonid Volkov’s manuscript. Estonian Museum of Architecture


First prize 4000 euros

Second prize 2000 euros

Third prize 1000 euros

and 5 Honorable Mentions


Winning projects will be exhibited in the main exhibition of the upcoming Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2022. A larger atlas of selected concepts will be presented to the City of Tallinn and exhibited as part of TAB 2022.


Winy Maas, Co-founding Partner and Principal of MVRDV, Rotterdam

Kaidi Põldoja, Head of the Spatial Planning Competence Centre at the City of Tallinn

Benedetta Tagliabue, Director of Miralles Tagliabue EMBT, Barcelona

Toomas Tammis, Professor of Architecture, Estonian Academy of Arts

Veronika Valk-Siska, Advisor, Estonian Ministry of Culture


The CIRCULAR BLOCK Vision Competition is organized by the curatorial team of the upcoming Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB) “Edible, Or, The Architecture of Metabolism” opening in September 2022. TAB 2022 is curated by Lydia Kallipoliti and Areti Markopoulou in collaboration with local co-curator Ivan Sergeyev.


  • The competition is anonymous. Entries must be identified by a project code or motto only, which should be at least 8 alphanumeric characters long and which must not infer the name of the project author(s). 
  • There is no registration fee to enter the competition. 
  • It is an open call one-stage competition, and all architects and students of architecture are welcome to participate. Jury members and their family, relatives and business partners are not eligible to participate.
  • The language of the CIRCULAR BLOCK Vision Competition in English. All texts, captions and titles should be in English only.
  • The form of submission is via digital upload. Competition entries shall be submitted in digital format as a .zip or .rar folder (max 2GB) through wetransfer to


Concept and vision should be illustrated in the following formats: 

  1. An abstract of 300 words maximum explaining the proposal. 
  2. A cover image accompanying the abstract representing the vision of the proposal. Image format: 4266 × 3200 px, PNG (RGB) uncompressed, resolution 300 dpi.
  3. Two (2) A1 Boards incorporating images of the proposal. Images can include standard architectural drawings (plans, sections, etc.) as well as renders. Board format: A1 (84.1 × 59.4 cm) in 300 dpi, submitted as both PNG and PDF.

The written explanation, drawings, diagrams and 3D visualizations of the proposal should be presented as clearly as possible. The scale of the drawings and schemes may be chosen freely.

Folders and files must be named using the following convention:

  • Folder: TAB_2022_Vision_Competition_ + project code
  • Boards: project code + boards.pdf
  • Images: project code + image_1.png
  • Summary: project code + summary.txt          

Participants grant the Estonian Centre for Architecture and TAB curatorial team the full permission to reproduce, translate, publish, exhibit, distribute and circulate the material related to the 2022 CIRCULAR BLOCK Vision Competition.


Competition entries will be evaluated based on the originality of vision, as well as on how ideas are supported by research and presented legibly. We are specifically interested in proposals that are both technically proficient, but also visionary in reimagining the livelihood of the mikrorayon, the block and the building. We seek entries that outline ideas in great detail, though emphasis is placed on creating new, experimental forms of building and living in the city. Representation should be used as an argumentative tool in support of the submissions’ thesis or idea.

More specifically the submissions will be evaluated for:

  • Suitability of design to the competition brief
  • Innovation and originality of the design solution/proposal vision
  • Impact of the proposal (environmental, social and economical benefits)
  • Spatial integration of the site specificities
  • Scalability of the proposal and implementation potential to different contexts or larger scales


Competition launches: November 2021

Competition closes: February 28, 2022. Digital submissions must be received by 23:59 EET (21:59 GMT). Entries that are not delivered in full or are not on time will not be considered.

The winning project codes will be announced by May 2022. Winning authors will be announced in September 2022 during the award ceremony at TAB 2022.

All work will be exhibited as part of the Tallinn Architecture Biennale’s expanded program.


Questions are to be submitted via email to by December 10, 2021.

Submitted questions and answers can be downloaded HERE.

Download the Competition Materials and Full Brief

The CIRCULAR BLOCK Vision Competition is organized by the curatorial team of the upcoming Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB) “Edible, Or, The Architecture of Metabolism” opening in September 2022. TAB 2022 is curated by Lydia Kallipoliti and Areti Markopoulou in collaboration with local co-curator Ivan Sergeyev and Assistant Curator Sonia Sobrino Ralston.