Estonia to have the world’s highest pyramids by 2030

Aidu pyramids vision III


An Estonian architecture firm and a local council are planning to use chippings from an oil-shale quarry to build the largest pyramids in the world in Aidu, North-Eastern Estonia by 2030.

The ancient Egyptians built most of the pyramids as tombs for pharaohs and their consorts. The pharaohs were buried in pyramids of many different shapes and sizes. Every year, millions of people travel to Egypt to admire those masterpieces, among them thousands of Estonians. But in 20 years’ time, the tiny Northern European country will have its own pyramids – in fact, the world’s highest. Unlike their Egyptian counterparts though, the original purpose of these pyramids will be regeneration of the local environment.

Estonian architect Ott Kadarik, one of the partners at architecture firm behind the project, Kadarik & Tüür, is brimming with enthusiasm about the venture: “’The pyramids’ is, of course, a catchy and ambitious name for our project – and indeed, that is the shape it will ultimately take. But the idea took off from our discussion with Aidu council leader Hardi Murula who asked us to think outside the box and find a purpose for waste rocks from the local oil shale quarry. Estonia’s oil shale deposits account for 17% of total deposits in the EU and the country generates 91% of its power from this source, which makes this Baltic tiger also one of the most energy independent countries in Europe, but it also creates waste rocks – 20 million tons over the next 25 years. Well, actually – the word ‘waste’ is not entirely appropriate because chippings from oil shale are not harmful to health, nor are they bad for the environment. Yet they are not of sufficient quality for buildings either, hence they would be disposed of otherwise. But instead of shoving them all in a pit out of the way and attempting to pretend that the mining industry never existed, we can use those splinters to create a new phenomenon, a tourist sight – and therefore add value to the local economy.”

Waste rocks will be used to build Aidu pyramids

Waste rocks will be used to build Aidu pyramids.

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Kadarik says that the idea is actually quite simple and not overly complicated, ruling out an ancient Egyptian-style, almost inhuman effort. Their firm has analysed the material and concluded that by stacking the waste rocks with four lateral facets at 37-degree angle, it would ultimately form a pyramid shape. “Our role as architects is to create a structure for the pyramids, so that we could build them layer by layer and increase their height year by year. Fascinatingly enough, it will be very flexible, so in theory we could slightly change the shape of the structure, over the years.” Once completed, the pyramids will be 151-152 metres in height, i.e. the highest in the world, occupying an area of 1,2 x 0,6 km. For comparison, The Great Pyramid of Giza stands at 138.8 metres.

Height comparison between Aidu and other pyramids in the world. Aidu on top.

Height comparison between Aidu and other pyramids in the world. Aidu on top.

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“But it wouldn’t be just couple of bare pyramids, standing on their own and a wind blowing between,” says Kadarik. “If you look at Egyptian pyramids, they are great ancient buildings in the Cairo desert. But what we are planning to do with Aidu pyramids is also to create a coherent, entertaining environment around it. There would be a theme-park with people able to walk up and down the pyramids, an amphitheatre, swimming pools with sandy beaches on which to sunbathe and swim, and educational facilities. There could be a tunnel through the pyramid which would double as an educational centre, called the Museum of the Earth. People could just walk around the pyramid or use Segway. And why not arrive in a hot air balloon, enjoying views across the local county?” Kadarik visualises, and continues: “Features that could fit within Aidu pyramid complex are endless – from restaurants, nightclubs and a go-kart track, to a mining museum and forests. In other words, it would be a place where nature, science, recreation and learning meet – a place to marvel, to rest, to think, and to learn, but above all, experience something completely extraordinary. Indeed, the complex would be visible from space.“

Aidu pyramids vision V

Aidu pyramids will be surrounded by a coherent, entertaining environment.

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The financial logic behind Aidu is that it’s cheaper to find an alternative use for waste rocks by building pyramids than getting rid of it by using landfill – this way, there’s no need to pay landfill tax. Therefore, the cost of building Aidu pyramids is nominal and does not place any burden on taxpayer. But according to Hardi Murula, the ambitious project will only succeed if the current environmental laws and policies remain in place and it would not be “punished” by additional taxes. “Unfortunately, the public servants still fail to see the big picture – of how project on this scale would benefit the local area and Estonia as a whole. Instead, they are thinking in terms of short-term gain – how to collect landfill tax. But the aim of EU landfill directive, as well as Estonian legislation, is not to collect huge environmental taxes, but to find an alternative use and reduce waste. That’s exactly what we are aiming to do with Aidu Pyramids,” concluded Murula.

The excavating in current mines will continue until 2030, by which time the ambitious visionaries behind Aidu pyramids project hope that by completing this venture, they have given a very remote place in Estonia a fair chance to become a buzzing part of Europe – an area which people can actually visit with enjoyment, not just abandon it after decades of exploitation, excavating oil shale for electricity.

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The complex would be visible from space.

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Photos: Kadarik & Tüür

EstonianWorld would like to hear comments and feedback from our readers – what do you think of this project?

About the author: Silver Tambur

Silver is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of EstonianWorld.com. His interest is to explore the impact, developments, and movements of a new generation of cosmopolitan Estonians, who increasingly leave their mark around the globe – let it be a technology, start-up scene, the arts, or even defence.

  • Leonard

    So how much will this cost and who’s going to pay for it?

    • SilverTambur

      It’s clarified now in the article. According to the local council leader, they would be built gradually and the cost for building pyramid structures is nominal – provided that there’s no need to pay additional environmental taxes. The cost for taxpayer at this stage is non-existent. It is probably difficult to predict the ultimate cost – which the entertainment facilities would involve. But my understanding is that it would be financed by private initiative.

  • Tony de Palgi

    Ossum idea! Hope the idea will find the approval of legislators. How much will it cost… mhm… How many tourists it will attract and how much revenue possibility is there – these should be the quetsions? :) Thumbs up!

  • Vello Petraska

    Build it and they will come.

  • Alex

    I’m sorry but I see a flaw on the second part of this plan, regarding the museums, commercial center, night clubs and stuff…….Estonia does not have the population numbers to keep a place so huge “commercially valid” for the owners of those activities; it could work by attracting also lots of tourists from other countries, but then fast transport to and from the pyramids will be necessary because tourist will not like to travel for eternal hours to get there. The rest of Europe is used to have highways up to 130km/h and fast trains; Estonia has none (for reasons that are still unknown to me). So either you scale down the quantity of activities inside the pyramids to adjust to support the population of Estonia, which is also used to drive hours and hours to get only few hundreds of kilometers far OR they have to think about FAST ways to transport tourists from either Riga or Tallinn.
    Or, have a small airport in next to the pyramids, only for domestic flights between Tallinn and the Pyramids.

    • George Uptown

      It would be 2030…Think of the possibilities.

      • Alex

        Yeah, so they thht in the 70′ when they believed that in 2000 we would have be colonizing other planets and have flying cars. Reality has shown that thing takes much longer to realize, and if you do not plan NOW for a railway or highway, it will never been ready in time. I am still waiting for a reasonable answer

        • Mari

          Actually there is incredibly high count of tourists coming to Estonia all the time. I don’t know why the hell they are coming here, but they do, so it will be probably be fine…

        • SilverTambur

          I have notified the local council leader (and the initiator behind this project) of your comment and the questions raised – if he wishes to respond. Personally, I think that it is right to think out of the box and think bigger – it has taken Estonia forward in the recent past (btw, Dubai was just a small fishing village 40 years ago – think where it is now). But you also have a valid point suggesting that the right infrastructure needs to be in place. And indeed, considering Estonia’s climate, there would have to be lots of indoor entertainment to attract people there in winter.

          • Alex

            Thank you Silver, I just wanted to point out a weak point of this, otherwise, great idea and to hint some constructive criticism, because getting people there easily, can be as important as having everything else in place and ready for them.
            And yes, for such big project, you have to think very big at all aspects of its design and implementation.
            Let’s see if the local council leader has some thoughts to share, or if I indeed gave a positive impulse to this idea :)

          • http://aivar.ruukel.ee/ Ruukel

            I do not get the point, can you explain Silver? You say “Dubai was just a small fishing village 40 years ago – think where it is now”….
            Where is Dubai now?
            I have never been in Dubai, help me to understand the idea?

          • SilverTambur

            Aivar, what I meant was that today, Dubai is a highly developed, international hub and a tourist destination, with many facilities for entertainment. Had it remained a small fishing village, it would not host 10 million tourists this year. And I want to stress here that I’m not indicating at all that the entire Estonia should be turned into some kind of Dubai-style glitzy “Disneyland” – I’m well aware of what you are doing in Soomaa and that offers a completely different value in its own right – but I just wanted to point out how important is to think outside the box, beyond limits, which the Aidu pyramids project represents.

  • inq

    highest pyramids are in Bosnia.. -_-
    “Pyramid of the Sun”

    • Ffs

      Bosnian pyramids are a hoax. They are normal hills being shaped by conmen to look like there was something there in ancient times to make money

      Here we are looking at finding something productive to do with the excess material that has accumulated troughout the soviet occupation and later with mining oilshale. It is far better than to leave behind an ugly quarry

  • Dalas

    ahha, ahaha, aaahahahahaha…

  • Joosep

    Amazing. I would love this!

  • Abdelrahman Bayrekdar

    Neat use for the shale-oil waste and ash, quite a change of taste from the current ash mountains.

    On a lesser note, I find it beautifully ironic to be born in the land of the pyramids and living in one aspiring to build more pyramids!