Collaboration on increased creativity
The project aims to repurpose unused electricity powerline masts on the Pollinator Highway in Tallinn and reimagine a new life for them. It preserves the masts as landmarks, adding an exciting layer to the history of the Pollinator Highway and giving them a new meaning and function. The concept was to turn them into a new kind of “energy mast” with integrated smart city solutions that function as landmarks and support versatile uses. The project is part of the Pollinator Highway, a green corridor that connects the city outskirts to the centre where special attention is given to supporting the lifecycles of insects. The masts are a rare opportunity to bring vertical scale to urban planning. By dismantling the pylons in modules and reassembling them in a new way, the masts might become, for example, light poles, greenhouses, climbing towers or observation platforms. These five old masts will become new landmarks in the area and an opportunity to test new landscape ideas on a bigger scale and in a vertical orientation.
Description of practice
The project involved several steps:
● A collaboration process with the Estonian Academy of Arts, to reconceptualise the pylons
● A design process based on students’ work where potential new uses for the masts were laid out
● Selection and further development of the potential new uses by architects and planners
● Gathering and analysis of feedback from stakeholders and the public in an exhibition and live event
● An agile piloting process, “From grey to green: vertical green infrastructure”
● Rebuilding the masts
Who is involved
The project team comprises urban planners, architects, engineers, local focus group members and students from the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn. The towers are to be given a new form and function in collaboration with the architecture faculty (the students, professional architects and construction engineers) at the Estonian Academy of Arts in a process of creating new concepts. Students from the Estonian Academy of Arts collected input from local citizens by asking their opinion of and for ideas regarding the masts. The new concepts will be taken further in collaboration with the current owner of the masts (Elering) and the City of Tallinn.
Promotion and communication
Promotion was carried out through public events on location in the spring of 2022 and on social media in the autumn of 2021. The latter included the Pollinator Highway co-creation site, the Pollinator Highway Instagram page, a Facebook Live event and interactions with local news media throughout the project timeline.
The results will be communicated through a Facebook Live event and press releases (work in progress). To gather feedback, the intermediate results of the project were put on public display in an exhibition in the tunnel exhibition space of Tallinn’s Liberty Square in August–September 2021. The final architectural concepts were introduced to stakeholders and the public in the form of a Facebook Live event in September 2021.
● Software: GIS knowhow and proficiency in various 3D modelling programs; using different software is an opportunity to use different applications and tools
● Skills: Competence in architecture and engineering, and presentation skills
● Resources: Virtual conference platforms; Good communication and storytelling skills
The Pollinator Highway project ran from 2018 to the autumn of 2022. The nine-month collaborative process began in January 2021. Work on the masts began in the spring of 2021 and will continue for several years.
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Knowledge and skills
● Supporting collaboration and working across different teams and professions to provide diverse expertise is essential to developing an innovative concept.
● Ideas gained from public participation can be beneficial at different stages of the project.
● Cooperation with the masts’ owner meant a lot of agreements had to be negotiated.
● Teamwork online was challenging at times.
● It is difficult to fit all parties’ time schedules into one timeline.
● Public participation raises lots of contradictory ideas and expectations.
● Through a continuous process of collaboration and feedback, and of involving different stakeholders and experts, the transmission towers will be given a new form and function, maintaining the heritage of the site.
● Results will be visible in the near future as the masts are repurposed; for now, however, the design process has benefited from different inputs from various interest groups and overall the feedback has been positive.
Repurposing the transmission towers on the Pollinator Highway co-creation site https://www.putukavail.ee/elektrimastid