Tag Archives: Tallinn

August storm in architecture

Avo-Himm Looveer, 1982. EAM K-48

The massive development of whole areas of prefabricated apartment houses in Tallinn during the 1970s and 1980s questioned the relationship between the new dwelling districts and the historical layers of the city. In criticisms of these general trends, it was suggested that architectural additions in a good living environment should consider the plurality of the urban fabric. In Avo-Himm Looveer’s work, monolithic elements seem to be sinking in the sea, with the skyline of Tallinn’s Old Town in the background, referring to the rapid development of Lasnamäe. In the architect’s vision this development moves beyond the boundaries of the residential zone and shows the artificial environment on a global scale. Its destruction by the forces of nature, on the other hand, refers to a breakthrough in how architecture is considered. The watercolour was acquired in 2010. Text: Sandra Mälk


Veel: , ,



Interior design of the Tallinn Town Hall

Leila Pärtelpoeg, 1973–1978. EAM 4.3.7

During the renovation of the oldest Gothic town hall which has been preserved in Northern Europe (completed in the beginning of the 15th century), a competition was held to find a fitting interior design for the historic surroundings. Some of the decision-makers believed the winning solution by interior architect Leila Pärtelpoeg with its heavy black furniture, high gloss doors and copper lamp globes to be much too competitive with the historical legacy. Others, however, saw the tension between new and old as an expected means to invigorate the room. The drawings depict medieval festivities in the trading hall and the guild-hall with historical chandeliers and side reliefs. Leila Pärtelpoeg donated nearly 50 drawings of the furniture and interior design to the museum in 2000. Text: Sandra Mälk


Veel: , , ,



Competition entry for the observation and water tower in Mustamäe

Mart Port, 1962. EAM 52.2.11

The quality of the entry submitted for the competition for the observation and water tower that was due to serve the Mustamäe district in Tallinn lies in its pure technically engineered form. The modern concave roof of the lookout platform was possible thanks to the use of reinforced concrete. The area was under intense development at the time: the ski jumping tower on top of a hill slope in Mustamäe had been completed a year earlier and there were plans to build the campus of the university of technology at its foot. The perspective view shows an architectural drawing style that was common at the beginning of the decade where the classical watercolour and ink drawing has been completed using a wide dark-coloured felt-tip pen. The tower was never built. The drawings from Mart Port´s home archive were given to the museum by his family. Text: Sandra Mälk


Veel: , ,



Competition entry for the Art Museum of Estonia

Kalle Vellevoog, 1994. MEA 5.4.76

Based on the location of the project, the authors of the entry “Pont du Parc” saw an opportunity to bring the two districts – Kadriorg and its Baroque park and Lasnamäe with its Soviet-era panel apartment blocks – closer together. The main volume of the Art Museum stretches across the limestone clint in Lasnamäe, thus bridging the two districts with different historical narratives. The elongated main building houses the majority of the exhibition spaces, whereas the round part was designed for storage and service rooms. An axonometric bird’s-eye view of the building in its topographically unique location highlights the “bridge” message between the two areas. The museum was built according to the winning entry by Pekka Vapaavouri, nevertheless the idea of carving through the limestone has leaked to the design of the memorial to victims of communism in Maarjamäe (Kalle Vellevoog, Jaan Tiidemann, Tiiu Truus). The collage was donated to the museum in 2015 by architect Kalle Vellevoog. Text: Sandra Mälk


Veel: , ,



Interiors of the Estonia Theatre and Concert Hall

Armas Lindgren, Wivi Lönn, 1912. MEA 4.1.1

These watercolour drawings of an art-nouveau and classicist restaurant, library, and foyer were part of an entry package for the Estonia Theatre and Opera House’s architectural competition. The theatre building became a chief national symbol, a cultural citadel and one of the largest structures in Tallinn at the time. The foyers are adorned with mascarons; majestic chandeliers; and fashionable, fluted new-classicist pilasters, which were a novel phenomenon. Still, the final design of the national theatre’s foyer was slightly altered. The original theatre was destroyed in the March 1944 bombing of Tallinn, then restored according to a design by Alar Kotli (completed 1953), which replaced the original art-nouveau interiors with classicist Stalinist design. Drawings were acquired from the institution of “Eesti Ehitusmälestised” in 1993. Text: Sandra Mälk


Veel: , , , , ,



Tallinn Song Festival Arena (sketch)

Alar Kotli, 1957-1958. MEA 23.1.51

The Tallinn Song Festival Arena represents the re-arrival of modernism to Estonia during the Khrushchev Thaw. The Estonian SSR leadership commissioned the structure to mark the 20th anniversary of Soviet rule, but to Estonians, it was a symbol of their nationality and culture. The Song Festival Arena was essentially also a way of the nation thumbing its nose at the USSR – with its completion, Estonians’ nearly 100-year tradition of holding mass song festivals was immortalised. Alar Kotli came close to an entirely innovative final solution already when making his initial sketches, which include a saddle-roof in the shape of a hyperbolic paraboloid that functions as an acoustic screen. The sketches were donated to the museum by Anu Kotli in 1997. Text: Sandra Mälk


Veel: , ,



Pirita beach pavilion

Pirita beach pavilion, photographer Rein Vainküla

Photographer Rein Vainküla of State Design Office Tsentrosojuzprojekt has captured the photogenic central element of the Pirita beach pavilion with its dining establishments, in which the combination of architectural parts provides an impressive melange. The shot, built on contrasting tones and diagonal lines, creates a somewhat deceptive, even constructivist impression. A human scale is added to the photograph by the beach-goers that seem to be almost strategically positioned.

Planning the new Pirita beach pavilion was instigated for the sailing regatta that took place in Tallinn as part of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. To make way for the new building, which was completed in 1979, a wooden beach pavilion designed by Edgar Kuusik and Franz de Vries and built in 1929, was demolished. At first, the new building, blindingly light and bright in the sun, had a restaurant, bar, cafeteria, three banquet halls, and in each wing rooms intended for beach-goers. The building was designed by Mai Roosna at Tsentrosojuzprojekt. At the beginning of the 2000s, the building was almost completely rebuilt to house apartments (architect Ülo Peil). Text: Jarmo Kauge


Veel: , , , ,



Dwelling of family Kangur

Peeter Tarvas, 1950s. MEA 40.1.82

There is a recognisable style to the dwellings erected in Estonia’s immediate post-war years. These stone buildings with tall gabled roofs and raised gutter-lines can be found all across the country. Their construction derives from traditional German heimat architecture, intended to give residents a cosy sense of home with the help of small elements such as romantic shutters. The style also pleased the Stalinist regime: it was sufficiently unlike the dominant pre-war flat-roofed structures, which carried “unfit” Western European values. The project was donated to the museum by Maria Tarvas along with many materials from the family collection in 2006.


Veel: , ,



Sketches of Tallinn’s Väike-Õismäe residential neighbourhood

Mart Port, ca 1968. MEA 52.2.12

When designing the Väike-Õismäe residential neighbourhood, Mart Port and Malle Meelak – a shining tandem of Soviet-Estonian urban planning – seized the opportunity to shape it into an ideal city and avoid mistakes that commonly accompanied the construction of high-density housing projects. In the centre of the district designed for 40,000 residents, they placed an artificial lake with developments extending radially from it centre point. The drafts vividly convey Port’s genuine fascination with the concept of a ring-city. Compared with the earlier Mustamäe district, which was constructed as several independent micro-districts, Väike-Õismäe’s solution was unique and even so novel that there were numerous bumps along the road to gaining approval for its design. The architects had been expected to produce ordinary designs for an urban network, which would contain several smaller neighbourhoods and linear streets. This was precisely what Port and Meelak wished to avoid, instead producing a concentric street-plan with spacious outdoor areas that allowed for a more human dimension. Text: Sandra Mälk


Veel: , ,



Johannes Orro’s dwelling at Raudtee Street in Tallinn

Edgar Velbri, design 1932, constructed. MEA 14.1.46

Bustling Nõmme had already grown from a holiday village to a reasonably-sized town (possessing town privileges from 1926–1940, after which it became a district of Tallinn) when café-owner Major Johannes Orro presented the design for his new building to the town government in 1932. True to the era of thriving small businesses, the ground floor of the residential building in the Kivimäe neighbourhood housed a bakery – an unquestionably successful venture, given its close proximity to the railway station. The design was drafted by young architect and Tallinn Technical University student Edgar Velbri, who was fascinated by old-fashioned architecture; probably a result of his summer internships at the Estonian National Museum, during which he surveyed Estonian farm structures. The hipped roofs, romantic shutters, and vertical siding characteristic of Estonian agricultural architecture later carried over into the architect’s personal style. Complementing such features with his talent for creating functional floorplan solutions, Velbri gained great public favour and demand, and his cosy structures gained their own nickname: “Velbri houses”. This single-page ink drawing on tracing paper is a typical 1930s residential design project, which was submitted for official approval along with an explanatory letter. Text: Sandra Mälk


Veel: , ,