Collaboration for shared decision-making

One of the winners of the “Place Buzz” open installation competition: “Roo”. Credit: Triin Vallner, Ko Ai.


‘Place Buzz’ is an innovative open competition that places temporary urban art installations on the Pollinator Highway. It is based on the Agile Piloting Programme model for innovative procurement of prototypes. The purpose of the competition was to find conceptual designs for three different installations on the Pollinator Highway that would make it feel more like a whole. Key requirements for the artworks or architectural objects were that each should be an innovative, site-specific, environmentally sensitive and community-engaging contemporary installation. Priority was given to making the most of the existing space and the potential of its elements, as well making monotonous environments more lively.

Description of practice

Inputs were gathered from a study conducted by the Centre for Applied Anthropology of Estonia on the perceptions and use of the space on the Pollinator Highway. In addition, citizens were involved in mapping the parts of the highway that needed to be livened up for recreational activity, rest and relaxation or sightseeing. The principles of sustainability and material lifecycles were kept in mind when creating the installations and selecting materials. The submitted work needed to be feasible and to fall within the prescribed budget of €20,000 per installation, including the prize fund. The winning proposals were selected by an international jury that included various public departments. One winning proposal was selected by public vote via the Maptionnaire platform for engaging local citizens. 

Who was involved

The competition was based on the concept of the Pollinator Highway, Tallinn’s development strategy 2035 and Tallinn’s values as the Green Capital of Europe in 2023. The competition was led by the Tallinn Strategic Management Office Spatial Planning Team, and its rules were devised in cooperation with the Pollinator Highway’s working group. Anyone involved in art, architecture or urban studies was welcome to participate.

Promotion and communication

Communication and promotion were carried out via press releases, radio programmes, articles and presentations, including at an international public art seminar, as well as online on the social media platforms of the parties involved. Communications for the process were mainly in three languages: Estonian, English and Russian.


Skills: Knowledge of engagement platforms (such as Maptionnaire), a willingness to think outside the box and be experimental, an understanding of the context of the site and knowledge of local communities.

Resources: Excellent translation services, as the communication was implemented in three languages.

Time commitment

Preparations for the installation competition, which included all the necessary documents and briefings, and coordination between different departments, began in the autumn of 2021 and took about three months. The competition was launched at the beginning of January 2022 and the winners were announced at the beginning of May. Installations were built in the summer of 2022 to be ready in September. Installations are planned to remain in place at least until the end of 2023, making the total time commitment for the project 28 months.

Level of participation
  • No participation (stakeholders/citizens were not included)
  • Informing (informing citizens about what is planned, what is going on and/or what has taken place)
  • Consultation (offering options and listening to the feedback)
  • Co-production in some of the aspects
  • Co-production from start to finish
Urban planning challenge(s) tackled

Governance and institutional factors

  • Working collaboratively
  • Standards and regulatory processes
  • Finance

Stakeholder engagement 

  • Public acceptance
  • Shared decision-making 
  • Social inclusion

Knowledge and skills

  • Awareness and communication
  • Expertise
  • Technical integration


Lessons learned

● The importance of having willing partners in the city that support the cause and provide valuable data

● The importance of having a dedicated liaison person

● The importance of having conducted a comprehensive study by the Centre for Applied Anthropology of Estonia, pointing out the current issues on the Pollinator Highway.

● It might not always be possible to conduct or use an anthropological study because of budget limitations.

● Communications and the public vote took place primarily online, limiting the audience.

● The language barrier raised some complications regarding specific procurement procedures at different stages of the competition.


● Competition rules were agreed in the pre-planning phase, based on a study conducted by the Centre for Applied Anthropology of Estonia of the perceptions and use of the space on the Pollinator Highway.

● This phase also involved engaging with different city departments. Collaboration with architects and planners was initiated when the competition brief was discussed with and approved by the Estonian Artists’ Association and the Estonian Association of Architects.

● Sustainable and eco-friendly solutions for public art production were incorporated into the implementation phase, which added immediate value.

● The project led to the establishment of innovative methods for public procurement.

● There is now greater visibility of less-known areas and attention to new green infrastructure projects, which are still being designed and have not yet been fully incorporated.

● Increased awareness of the benefits of green infrastructure, keeping in mind that not only people, but also insects, pollinators, birds and small mammals need green infrastructure to survive in an urban environment.

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