Twisting towards the sky and dotted with tiny, irregular windows, Estonia’s Snail Tower is not your usual monolithic skyscraper. Constructed in 2008 in Tartu, the 23-floor high-rise houses residential flats, offices, and a car park within its winding structure — made to resemble a snail’s shell.
The spiral design is not limited to the building’s exterior. In fact, it impacts the structure’s entire frame. The building boasts unique radial walls, with apartments arranged around the central core. The design was planned to maximise space and ensure that each home has a view of the Tartu skyline and the nearby Emajõgi river.
Beyond its eye-catching design, the spiral structure holds a spiritual meaning: according Kunnapu & Padrik Architects, the masterminds behind the project, the building symbolises eternity. “Spiral forms occur in nature from galaxies in the sky to tornadoes,” the studio explain. “The spiral motif dates back to the Neolithic period, and it is linked with the idea of death or rebirth.The spiral has always been a symbol of the development of life. It indicates that life develops from a point and revolves around it, constantly increasing.”
Tartu is Estonia’s second city, and as the home to its oldest university, it is often considered the country’s intellectual capital. It is also thought to be the oldest city in the Baltics, and in 2024, it will hold the title of European Capital of Culture.