National Library of Estonia
June 13–16

Sunday June 17 2018

  • 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).