National Library of Estonia
June 13–16

Sunday June 17 2018

  • 09.00–15.00
    Rural Modernism: Soviet Collective Farm Settlements and Leisure Architecture
    From the 1950s–1980s, several hundred cooperative farms — kolkhozes and sokvkhozes — were built across Estonia, introducing an urban-like lifestyle to the countryside. This was enabled by large-scale collective agricultural production that turned out to be a rather successful industry in Estonia. There was more money available for developing wealthy collective farms than in the cities, which boosted a kind of architectural competitiveness between different collective farms from the 1960s onwards. As a result, Estonian collective farm architecture developed into a unique phenomenon in the former USSR with outstanding administrative buildings and modern dwellings, including Scandinavian-influenced row-houses and private houses for the technocratic elite in which life took on an almost petit-bourgeois form. The tour visits well-preserved examples of collective farm settlements near Tallinn, like the Kurtna Experimental Poultry Farm (1965–1966) and the settlement of the Agricultural Research Institute in Saku, as well as the building of the Rapla Collective Farm Construction Office (built 1971–77). The second part of the tour focuses on leisure buildings — company holiday homes and summer cottage cooperatives — in coastal areas where a certain amount of architectural exceptionalism was permitted.
  • 09.00–15.00
    North Estonian Manors
    The tour visits three remarkable manors in Northern Estonia: Palmse and Sagadi manors with late 18th century main buildings and Vihula manor that was built during the 19th century as it now appears. There are hundreds of preserved historical manors in Estonia that were built after the Livonian War in the 16th  century left the medieval strongholds in ruins. Most of the manors were knight manors (Rittergut in German) of Baltic German nobility who kept their rights and privileges after the Russians conquered Estonian territory in the Northern War in 1710. The 18th and 19th centuries were the heyday of manors in Estonia. One of the reasons behind the growth of manors was distilling, as it became one of the prime sectors of manor economy when the Russian market was opened in 1766. In the Soviet period, the study of manorial ensembles in Estonia became an extensive area of research and one of the main domains of restoration activity in the 1970s and 1980s. Postmodernist nostalgia for the past favoured a reconstruction boom. Palmse and Sagadi manors are particularly good examples of heritage practices of the late Soviet period that, in addition to documented studies and conservation projects, used analogy and phantasy as methods.
  • 09.00–19.00
    Pärnu: Interwar Functionalism and Soviet Modernism
    Pärnu, on the southwestern coast of Estonia, has been one of the popular resort towns in the Baltic countries since the 19th century. During the interwar independence years, the former wealthy German, Jewish and Russian vacationers were replaced by the rising Estonian middle class, while also attracting tourists from Finland and Sweden. The next important milestone was the era of being a Soviet health resort town, also in high demand among intelligentsia from Leningrad (present-day St. Petersburg) and Moscow. A number of iconic buildings are located in Pärnu. Ammende Villa (Mieritz and Gerassimov, designed 1904) is an example of Belgian- and Austrian-influenced Art Nouveau, with its colourful ceramic tiles and fold iron details. Pärnu is closely connected with the name of the architect Olev Siinmaa, whose white Functionalist villas, including his own house (1931) as well as the Beach Hotel (1935) and Beach Café (1938) with its mushroom shaped concrete balcony, are the finest examples of the Modern Movement in Estonia. From the Soviet period, the sanatorium Tervis (Health) is noteworthy for its Miesian curtain wall aesthetic (1966) and the Neo-functionalist monumentalism of its new wing (1976). The settlement of the Pärnu KEK (Pärnu Collective Farm Construction Office, 1969) is not tied to resort history, but it is a residential showpiece of a large Soviet organization embodying a utopia of communal living. The most outstanding part of the settlement is the 700m long multi-unit apartment building, Kuldne Kodu (Golden Home).
  • 09.00–19.00
    Two Industrial Towns: Sillamäe and Narva
    Sillamäe, located near the Gulf of Finland, is an industrial town that was founded in 1946 and had restricted access for other inhabitants of the country. The city was home to the chemical and nuclear industry, especially uranium production, that was a part of the Soviet Union’s military programme. Sillamäe now offers a good overview of Soviet architecture from the Second World War to 1990. The location of the Stalin-era Neoclassicist old town is most picturesque with its staircase descending from the cliff and continuing as an axial boulevard lined by decorated residential buildings until it reaches the sea. Once a prime example of Baroque architecture in Europe, Estonia’s easternmost city Narva was heavily damaged in the Second World War and almost entirely rebuilt. The few historical monuments that have been preserved include the Hermann Fortress on the border of Estonia and Russia, which is the most diverse and best preserved medieval defence structure in Estonia. The area of the Narva waterfalls is the site of the Kreenholm Textile Factory established in 1857 that was one of the largest textile mills in Europe. Along with the factory buildings, housing for employees was simultaneously constructed and inspired by the working class neighbourhoods of England. The present-day look of Narva was formed during the 1950s–1970s.