Innovative Solutions of the Loodusmaja

The new building of the Estonian Museum of Natural History, the House of Nature, features several innovative and eco-friendly solutions. The project takes into account the needs of bats and swifts, rainwater reuse, and energy-efficient lighting for the rooms.


Habitats for Animals

In collaboration with the Estonian Museum of Natural History, landscape architects, bird ecologists, and bat specialists, integrated habitats for various urban animals (insects, birds, the current Patarei bat colony, etc.) will be created within the building. This initiative allows species that might not coexist in nature to live side by side, expanding the concept of experimental landscapes from soil and plants to include wildlife. These habitats require minimal investment but greatly enrich the biodiversity of the Loodusmaja Quarter.

To ensure bird safety, large glass facades will be laminated with a film visible to birds but invisible to the human eye. The space between the semi-open double façade will be sealed at the top and bottom with bird netting to prevent birds from getting trapped behind the glass.


  • BIM design
  • Use of virtual reality in the design process
  • Calculation of the CO2 footprint throughout the building's life cycle
  • 100% reuse of bio-waste in a bioreactor and maximum sorting of waste
  • Development of a moisture safety plan
  • Development of a security concept

Architecture and Interior Design:

  • Universal office floors with different-sized room modules and industrial timber construction allow for flexible building functions and uses in the future. Office spaces can be repurposed as seminar rooms, classrooms, or public areas (e.g., exhibition spaces).
  • Typical floors enable space usage changes without major renovations.
  • Cross-use of spaces: shared common areas save space and foster synergy between departments.
  • To reduce the parking footprint, the underground parking garage is planned minimally, anticipating increased public transport and bicycle usage. This allows future repurposing of the parking space for museum expansion, charging areas, workshops, auxiliary rooms, etc.
  • Maximum reuse of materials for finishes and furniture selection.
  • Extensive indoor greenery, including tall plants in the dock building atrium.

Fire Safety:

  • The five-story Loodusmaja will be Estonia's tallest public wooden building, significant for fire safety in the country. Typically, similar buildings are constructed with reinforced concrete. Exposing wooden structures to the planned extent is exceptional.
  • Exposing at least 50% of wood-based structures requires installing an automatic fire extinguishing system in the building.
  • Instead of a conventional sprinkler system, a water mist fire extinguishing system will be used. The advantage of the water mist system is significantly smaller water droplets, providing greater cooling effect and less water damage.



  • The Nature House complex is novel acoustically, using cross-laminated timber panels and glulam beams as load-bearing structures, posing challenges in reducing reverberation. To reduce echo, sound-insulating cladding walls are added, walls are thickened, and additional floor layers are built.
  • The room acoustics of the Nature House are unique in terms of the placement of sound-absorbing materials. Exposing as much of the wooden structures as possible, most sound-absorbing materials in workspaces, corridors, and other rooms are placed on walls instead of traditional ceiling surfaces.

Outdoor Space:

  • Rainwater reuse for irrigation
  • Outdoor workspaces with charging outlets and WiFi in the courtyard
  • Design of experimental landscaping
  • Smart bike racks
  • Shelters with charging points for electric bikes and scooters
  • Stroller parking


  • The Nature House will be a landmark for wooden construction in Estonia. The three buildings combined will form the largest planned wooden structure in Estonia. The goal is to demonstrate various uses of wood in construction – the dock building will be Estonia's tallest new building with all load-bearing and bracing elements made of wood, the city building will demonstrate the efficiency of wooden structures for office use, and the museum building will showcase large-span wooden roofs.
  • All wooden structural elements of the dock building will be exposed, with their fire resistance ensured by sufficient cross-section. Combining various wood-based materials (LVL panels, CLT panels, and glulam) in joints is a novel solution worldwide and has not been used in Estonian projects until now.
  • Cross-laminated timber panels are used in the intermediate floors of the dock building, providing structural rigidity. The use of cross-laminated timber allows the ceiling's wooden structures to be left untreated for fire resistance, as the predictable burning rate ensures sufficient load-bearing capacity during the required fire resistance period.
  • The office floors of the city building have a simple and efficient structure. The cross-laminated timber panels used are transportable and assembled in one stage, speeding up construction and providing a smooth, beamless ceiling. This innovative solution can be used in other wooden office buildings.
  • The museum hall will have ceiling beams up to 30 meters long, creating a large, column-free exhibition space.


Heating, Ventilation, Cooling:

  • The district cooling system to be adopted in the Loodusmaja is not widely used in Estonia, especially in Tallinn. The first district cooling stations in Estonia were established in Tartu and Pärnu about a decade ago, and the first in Tallinn was built in 2019. The district cooling station to be built on the parking level of the Loodusmaja will also supply cooling to surrounding buildings. As much seawater as possible will be used as the cooling source, and devices emitting residual heat in the summer. Due to the use of seawater, the system lacks noisy cooling fans that require a lot of outdoor space. The advantage of district cooling is lower CO2 emissions and significantly reduced use of synthetic refrigerants.
  • Generally, cooling new buildings with untreated outside air is not done, but this solution is very effective in large air spaces. The ventilation openings used are windows in the glass end walls of the dock building and smoke vents in the atrium roof. The opening of windows and vents is automatically controlled based on the indoor and outdoor temperature difference, avoiding drafts in occupied areas. This solution significantly reduces the need for mechanical cooling of the atrium space.
  • Directing low-pollution exhaust air to parking lots has been a common solution since winter exhaust air is significantly warmer than outside air, which doesn't need to be preheated before being directed to the parking lot. This results in a significant energy-saving in heat energy consumption. However, due to increasingly stringent energy efficiency requirements in recent years, the efficiency of ventilation equipment heat recovery has increased, making exhaust air temperatures gradually lower. Reheating exhaust air directed to parking lots is now back in focus. The innovative solution involves not reheating exhaust air with high heat recovery efficiency but reducing the efficiency if needed and regulating the amount of exhaust air directed to the parking lot based on carbon monoxide concentration.
  • Similar rooms are typically humidified using steam humidifiers, which use electricity for evaporation. By replacing steam humidifiers with adiabatic humidifiers, district heating is used for evaporation instead of electricity. This solution is environmentally friendly (less pollution during energy production), but precise control is more complex, and there is a risk of bacterial growth with inadequate maintenance.
  • In winter, air intake occurs from the double façade's southeast side, where the air is warmer, requiring less energy for preheating before blowing into the building. In summer, air intake occurs through grilles on the northwest façade, avoiding direct sunlight. This reduces the need for cooling the intake air, ensuring energy savings.

Water and Sewerage:

  • Rainwater reuse for irrigation
  • Planning of water mist sprinkler system

Electricity, Low Voltage, Automation:

  • Desk lamps that cover both task and general lighting needs
  • Use of glare-free optics in lighting
  • Power rails for various directional lights with integrated general lighting
  • Use of workplace lights with adjustable color temperature
  • Climate system control using machine learning
  • Use of UPS as a reactive power compensator
  • UPSaaR and renewable energy source as a grid peak load compensator
  • EMS – Energy Management System – software/tool for the building's energy manager/facility manager