VARES is an international interdisciplinary residency for spatial practice, whose main task is to seek, find and create alternative spatial practices that are not based on market logic, but rather on the desire to create spaces and places that enrich everyday life, empower the local community and town of Valga.

We are interested in finding ways to practice slow architecture, critically rethinking the discipline of architecture, learning and resurrecting vernacular and traditional crafts, gathering old and used materials and creating a place for lifelong learning for architects and spatial artists. VARES is a part of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 main programme.

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VARES Architecture Residency
Uus 35, 68203
Valga, Estonia


→ Residency period: 1–2 months during February–December 2024
→ Individuals & collectives from different disciplines
→ Funded residency + travel support
→ Applications open until November 20, 2023

How do we act as architects in a world where spatial practices are driven by market logic? Where building new is preferred over repairing the existing? Where standardised architecture and design is overproduced while unique and regional vernacular techniques are disappearing? Could it be that the standardisation of ways of making and their concentration only in the hands of specialists manifests itself over time in the spaces around us and in the lives that are lived there, losing the unexpected, original and strange?

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In the first days of November, architecture students of the 1st year of Estonian Academy of Arts settled in VARES for an introduction to the Shelter course. Shelters are projects made during the first year of architecture studies – experiments with space, form and material on the scale of the human body. Since this year decaying building heritage is treated as a potential building material, the introduction also included field work in abandoned buildings: exploring around, observations with both eyes and hands, including peeking inside the walls and floors, reflections and making conclusions. 

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Until October 10th 2023, VARES held an open call for a 2-month funded group residency dedicated to the sketchy materials used in homes and offices around us. Looking at the short life cycle of MDF, OSB and other particle boards used in fast fashion architecture and furniture design, we invite artists, architects and other cultural practitioners to rebuild or destroy the reputation of the simple particle board.

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In summer 2023, we sent out a call to our colleagues, friends and acquaintances to take part in the activities to adapt the house located at Uus 35 in Valga into a residency and a meeting place for spatial artists. The sessions were spread over two weeks in August: 31.07.–6.08. and 21.–27.08.

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In spring 2023, we tutored the 2nd year interior architecture students of the Estonian Academy of Arts in their semester studio, “Educational Space”. This course focused on hands-on and conceptual expression skills and searched for the possibilities and forms of the “self-educational space” through research, activities, experiments, documentation, reading, formulating and thinking.

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VARES architecture residency is located in a school house built in 1936, which has been used as a boarding school for girls and, lately, an adult distance learning high school.

The residency now has comfortable corners for living, yet the building itself is left raw and open for the residing artists to work on and in. 

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Q: What is the residency programme of VARES going to look like? Who should apply?

A: The aim of Valga Architecture Residency or VARES is to host residents, seminars and workshops dealing with spatial practices. The two storey residency building will slowly be transformed into a house museum, a collection of experiments, spatial interventions and ideas left behind by the residents living there.

We welcome international and interdisciplinary residents and guests who wish to experiment with circular materials and handicraft methods, engage with the unique geopolitical position of Valga, do some thematic mental exercises and contribute to creating inspiring alternative spatial experiences for oneself as well as the community.

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Founder of VARES

Margus is a freelance architect based in Estonia. He graduated from the department of architecture and urban planning at the Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA) in 2021, experimenting with spatial education for middle, high and university students throughout the years. Most of his projects are also involved with educational and creative spaces, either as an artist or curator at various biennials or through the self-initiated garage gallery Garaaž49. As a spatial creator, Margus is passionate about everything we create with our hands, sense with our bodies and experience through events, practising it under the initiative Hands Doing Things.

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Tel: +372 59 010 017
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VARES Valga Architecture Residency
Uus 35, 68203, Valga, Estonia

NGO Estonian Association of Young Architecture

Registry code: 80131176
IBAN: EE627700771002664511 AS LHV Pank BIC/SWIFT: LHVBEE22
VAT: EE102269396
Address: Estonia, Tallinn, Trummi 4-26, 12616