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Building a bottom-up community around circularity


About the pilot area



Kopli, a subdistrict in northern Tallinn, holds historical and industrial significance, with roots dating back to the early 20th century when it served as a Russian shipyard. With a population density of 3,472 (Pohja Tallinn) and 12.5% greenspace, Kopli district, situated on the Kopli peninsula, plays an important role as a production center and loop closer within the circular city framework.


The establishment of the Russian Empire's main naval base in Kopli triggered significant architectural revitalization, a trend that continued from the 1910s until the 1930s. This designed living environment encompassed essential facilities such as schools, churches, community centers, hospitals,



canteens, shops, post offices, fire stations, and more. One notable landmark is Kopli 93, an Art Deco-style building constructed in 1936. It has served as a community and cultural center, a military sailors' club, an educational facility, and now holds heritage status. 

Under the CENTRINNO project, the local municipality provided the venue for the creation of an innovative hub with a mission to revitalize traditional skills and local food production methods, incorporating innovative approaches like permaculture, common-based peer production, and design thinking.

To support Kopli 93 in their mission, our Cartography of Kopli focussed on mapping expertise and knowledge resources around two themes: Circular food systems and sustainable buildings. Our goal is it to create a Circular Ecosystem Map accessible to the community to highlight that circularity is nothing new but instead deeply rooted in the existing cultures, landscapes and practices.


Tallinn's urban challenges

  • High emissions - Coal shale is still the main electricity source for Tallinn

  • Soil pollution - several polluted sites in Kopli from urban landfilling and former industries

  • Inequality - largest gender segregation and gender wage pay gap in Europe 

  • Land use change - loss of green space and tree cover 

  • Water stress - climate change will lead to severe water stress

Which insights have been gathered by our local context detectives?

Read through our gallery of local anecdotes, research findings and in-depth analysis 

Detective's Findings


Tallinn, Estonia - The decades when Tallinn was the hub of the country's manufacturing during Soviet times have led to soil contamination in several places around the city. Kopli, where many factories were located, has been found to have the highest pollution index. Another hotspot can be observed around the city center. Which industries are responsible? Well, that is hard to determine due to the complex factors and background conditions of the soils. A geochemicals study of soils in Tallinn found heavy metals from former metalworking and machinery industries, plastic industries, radio engineering factories, and railroads and roads.

Kopli is also home to an old quarry that was later used as a landfill for urban waste. Now, the landfill is covered with liners and awaits urban regeneration to transform the space into a usable green area.

Soil pollution and soil degradation issues are much more than a localized environmental challenge. On a larger scale, degraded soils across the entire country are depleted of nutrients due to heavy chemical use in food production. No nutrients in the soils mean no nutrients in our foods.

Parallel to Kopli 93’s efforts to understand city and neighbourhood urban challenges, the team has embarked on a journey to map stakeholders in their community that have circular skills around food production, soil regeneration, construction as well as other circular design skills.

Who was mapped

Small businesses with circular models

Artisans & craftspeople

Individuals with expertise in e.g. permaculture, beekeeping or traditional building skills

Waste management stakeholders


  • The purpose of this mapping effort was to create a Circular Skills Map - a map that can support the pilot in connecting and demonstrating the richness of existing circular skills and competencies in the local community.

How was it useful for the Tallinn pilot team?

  • The mapping process allowed the pilot to get out and talk to people. This process was extremely useful to learn about local barriers to a circular economy and also crowdsource more ideas for a circular community

  • Mapping enables to build trust and grow the network

The mapping of makers in Kopli was done by a dedicated team member who used an interview guide in informal conversations with makers.

What local resources were mapped?

Waste materials

Skills and knowledge

Traditional heritage practices

Services that are offered (e.g. training, workshops etc.)

What else was asked?

  • Location of where materials are sourced from

  • Approximate scale of waste generation

  • Current treatment option of waste streams

How was data collected?

  • Surveys

  • Interviews 

Which circular opportunities were identified or explored for further research?

Building a soil learning network

  • Organization of community composting workshops

  • Soil Week which brought together experts from Tallinn and beyond to raise awareness on soil regeneration, soil pollution, composting, food and health

Increasing energy autonomy

  • Workshops on building small-scale wind power

Promoting circular design and repair skills

  • Restoration workshops of old building materials 

  • Restoration workshops of traditional tools

  • Upcycling workshops

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