Album of Villa Ammende

Harald Krannhals, 1926. EAM 1.2.43

The newest addition to the museum collection is related to the well-known Art Nouveau villa in Estonia. The album of Villa Ammende in Pärnu (architect Frithiof Mieritz, 1904) is exceptional not only for its photos of large variety of exteriors and interiors but as well as for some of the pictures taken from unusual places such as the kitchen with its staff, backyard and greenhouse depicting fruity grapes. The album shows the life and living manners of the family of a prosperous merchant displaying splendid furniture, textiles and items.

The album, lately owned by Irina Mirkov – the grandchild of Hermann Leopold Ammende – was put together for selling the house. Mr Ammende, an established merchant from Pärnu, commissioned the building from an architecture office in St Petersburg called Mieritz & Gerassimov for the wedding party of his daughter Ellen. After the festivities, the family used the luxurious house as a summer cottage until moving back to Germany in 1927.The pictures taken in 1926 are made by Harald Krannhals, the photographer from Pärnu. Addition to his work are pictures taken by Mihkel Õnnis some years later. Altogether 21 photos show some typical deteriorations happen in time. The dim areas of the photos have spots of silver coating. The album was given to the museum by Aivar Roosaar, who was involved in restoration of the villa (1995–1999). The gift shall be a befitting addition to the original project previously given to the museum (EAM 1.2.11). Text: Sandra Mälk

(click on the picture to see more)


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Competition entry for the observation and water tower in Mustamäe

Mart Port, 1963. 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


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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


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Standard designs of Eesti Maaehitusprojekt

Eesti Maaehitusprojekt (Estonian Rural Design), 1980s. MEA

Like previously introduced “EKE Projekt” the design institute “Eesti Maaehitusprojekt” (EMP, Estonian Rural Design) also prepared plans for rural settings, starting from 1951. Designs for this widespread bureau included dwellings alongside with greenhouses and sheds. A summer cottage with a shed and a greenhouse named A85-8 by architects Ado and Niina Eigi was part of a larger collection from series “A-85” by various architects. This 25,5 m2 building with rectangular layout came with a storage-attached greenhouse. It consists mostly of a kitchen and a living room with sleeping area. There is also a small bedroom on the upper floor below the narrow angled roof. A possibilty is offered to build either a veranda or a terrace on the shorter side of the house. Family dwelling “Puravik (named after Boletus mushrooms) from the same period was designed by architect Priit Kaljapulk in 1989. It has a fully built basement and consists of six rooms for living, in addition of such spaces as pantry and sauna. Other models designed at the same time were named in a similarly interesting style such as “Bruce”, “No-Spa” and “Programm”. The museum has collection of over 20 leaflets made for “EMP. Text: Maria Pöppönen


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Standard designs of houses and summer cottages

EKE Projekt, 1970–1980. MEA

The “EKE Projekt” was founded by inter-collective-farm construction company in 1966; it was based on co-operative ownership that lasted for 1992. The bureau was focused on rural architecture. Here on four hand-outs are some of the buildings designed by “EKE Projekt” to help homeowners and cooperatives pick a house. The project’s plans varied – from dwellings to shops and root cellars.
One of the main ideas of the prefabricated cabin Raul was to be easily built (engineer Rein Randväli). Known for its triangular structure, this small building had two levels: lower of which included living room, kitchenette and a toilet, and a small loft as the second floor. The family house and shop Raja-3 (architect Ants Mellik) had two functions combined. On the plan, the shop – along with the kitchen, family room, and garage – were situated on the ground floor, whereas the basement was used for storage space, sauna and utility rooms and the upper floor for bedrooms. Standard project for the one-family dwelling Ants-5 with five rooms comes from a rather popular series in the 1980s (designed by Ants Mellik). The façade of the house was covered by a combination of silicate and wooden lining. Ants-5 had various models, which differed – for example – by the structures of their basements. The vegetable cellar for one-family building (Toomas Lukk, Ants Mellik and Jaan Mõttus) was designed to be partially underground. This cement built cellar came in five variable sizes, smaller models meant for families to use and larger to store root vegetables also for sale. The roof could be covered with humus soil or grass. There are about 100 of these hand-outs of designs made in “EKE Projekt” in the museum collection. Text: Maria Pöppönen


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Reconstruction of the Neitsitorn tower into a studio apartment

Karl Burman, 1945–1947. MEA 3.2.34

Artist-architect Karl Burman lost his home in Kadriorg during the war and received new rooms in Neitsitorn (the Virgin’s Tower) in Old Town Tallinn, which had been an established gathering place for artists for a long time. The top floors of the tower housed a studio and living quarters. For 20 years the famous architect lived in a small one-room apartment within the thick walls of the medieval wall tower and planned to carry out reconstructions during his time there. In the sketches, Karl Burman has depicted the tower as a southern villa with spacious balconies and skylights, he also covered the façades with lush climbing plants. Every corner has been put into use – benches and built-in cupboards designed for the niches. The tower was restored and reconstructed as a cafeteria in 19681980. The drawings came to the museum via architect Teddy Böckler in 1994. Text: Sandra Mälk


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Lighting design for the bank building in Tartu

Aarne Mõttus (drawing), Arnold Matteus, Karl Burman. MEA 2.3.49

In 1936 the people of Tartu named the building of the Tartu branch of Eesti Pank (Bank of Estonia) (designed by Arnold Matteus and Karl Burman) as one of the most stately-looking new structures in the city. The bronze sculptures by sculptor Juhan Raudsepp add to the artistic integrity of the presentable façade. It was no coincidence that this bank building was also chosen as one of the public buildings to be decorated for the 20th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. The lighting design for the façade, overseeing the square, was prepared by graphic and scenographer Aarne Mõttus. Drawing was donated by restoration firm Pindisain Ehitus in 2001. Text: Sandra Mälk


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Interior design for Hotel Viru

Vello Asi, Väino Tamm, Loomet Raudsepp, 1964–1968. MEA 4.2.2

Hotel Viru (architects Henno Sepmann, Mart Port) was the highest and most modern hotel building in Soviet Estonia. It was primarily targeted at guests from Finland because the Tallinn-Helsinki seaway was reopened in 1965. However, locals were also able to access the bars and cafés of the hotel. The drawings illustrate a restaurant and a bar on the lowest volume of the building. The simplistic style reflected in the interior and the free plan indicate influences by modern Nordic room design – the opposite approach to the extravagant decade that preceded it. Drafts for the interior of Hotel Viru were to the museum by Eesti Projekt in 1994. Text: Sandra Mälk


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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


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Tehvandi Ski Centre

Peep Jänes, Tõnu Mellik, Allan Murdmaa (drawing), 1974. MEA 4.6.2

This modern ski centre was built in southern Estonia by commission of the State Committee for Sports of the USSR, and was intended foremost for training Soviet winter athletes. Its location in Tehvandi, on the fringes of Otepää (Estonia’s “winter capital”), was a proper choice, offering a wealth of athletic opportunities amid a landscape of rolling hills. The architects’ vision of a modern centre embedded in an artificial hill, sketched here in perspective, was realised to almost exact detail. Architects’ manner of approaching their task was location-based. Copying Otepää’s hilly landscape, they nestled another spherical form into nature. The Space Race also had a certain influence on the structure’s relatively technical form. The Union of Estonian Architects gave the watercolour to the museum in 1993. Text: Sandra Mälk


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Saksi Lutheran Church

Emil Urbel, 1989. MEA 5.4.7

New Estonian church architecture awakened from its long coma during the late 1980s. The more liberal atmosphere of perestroika opened up a new time of opportunity for sacral architecture. The design competition for a new Lutheran church on the shore of a lake in Lääne-Viru County was one of the first of its kind. The competition jury, composed of architects from Finland, Sweden, and Estonia, commended Emil Urbel’s winning entry for its flawlessly-proportioned façade and successful immersion into the landscape. Although post-modernism that flirted with motifs of historical architecture was dominant in the late 1980s, the jury preferred Urbel’s more universal and minimalist approach. Nonetheless, the building wasn’t realised. Emil Urbel donated the drawings “Ex nihilo” to the museum in 1993. Text: Sandra Mälk


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House for a Romantic – House for a Physicist

Ain Padrik, 1983, 1984. MEA 55.1.3 ja 55.1.4

At the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, architecture and especially residential building was starting to look at historical examples, and a relationship with the client or with the location of the building was deemed to be important. Designing a house provided a chance to experiment with the limits of freedom of expression and set an intriguing assignment to interpret the client through architecture. The romantic’s house followed the example of the Arts and Crafts movement in 19th-century England. This movement cherished handicraft and often employed motifs from medieval architecture: romantic towers and complex roof landscapes. The physicist’s house with its more clearly defined volumes proceeds from the wishes of the client. The physicist did not ask for large windows, preferring a lot of wall space and dimly lit interior. A thorough working project was also finished in addition to this sensitive perspective view. Construction received a building permit, but the physicist’s house was never completed.Ain Padrik donated the drawings to the museum in 2016. Text: Sandra Mälk


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City of the Living – City of the Dead

Leonhard Lapin, 1978. MEA 4.18.2

In the 1970s, in order to voice common opinions and organise a number of social-critical exhibitions and undertakings, avant-garde architectural students united to form a group later called the Tallinn School. “Elavate linn – Surnute linn” (“City of the Living – City of the Dead”) is Leonhard Lapin’s satirical take on the construction of characterless mass housing. The author hid several important allegories in the drawing: the words “Väike õhkamine” (“Little Sighing”) stuck between the buildings symbolise the Pruitt-Igoe Modernist housing project in St. Louis, MO, USA (demolished in 1972); while “Autodes matmine” (“Burial in cars”) in the centre of the work references Lapin’s friend Vilen Künnapu (also an architect), who was one of the first members of the Tallinn School to acquire a vehicle. The drawing was displayed at the Library of the Estonian Academy of Science in 1978 among other works of which many were donated to the museum by engineer Reet Lumiste in 1991.


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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


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Computation Centre in Pärnu

Urmas Muru, competition in 1988, II prize. MEA 5.5.3

In the 1980s young architects Raoul Kurvits, Peeter Pere, and Urmas Muru formed the radical Rühm T (Group T) artists’ group, which proclaimed that architects are artists, also. Urmas Muru’s vision for the Pärnu Computation Centre was a graphical Neo-expressionist design that was characteristic of Rühm T’s works. The strong angle of perspective and black-and-white pencil tones proceed from buildings of technical function and appearance. This led to a unique style that Kurvits and Muru termed “technodelic expressionism”. They described ‘technodelics’ as a revelation of the technical world through trance. The museum acquired the drawing in 1993 from Urmas Muru.


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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


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Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Narva

Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Narva, aerial photographer Endel Grensmann

Harsh reality: The Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Narva designed by Paul Alisch in 1896 is the only neo-Byzantine religious building in Estonia – here seen in its Soviet context of dishonour. Before the war, the grand building stood in the now non-existent district of Joaoru in line with Alexander’s Cathedral creating an impressive architectural ensemble. Kiriku tänav (Church Street), which once connected the two churches, was however, filled with apartment blocks after the war. The 2002 photograph by aerial photographer Endel Grensmann was purchased by the museum for its collection in 2003. Text: Jarmo Kauge


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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.


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Flower Pavilion at Pirita Road in Tallinn

Valve Pormeister, design 1958, completed 1960. MEA 33.1.22

Architect Valve Pormeister, who graduated university in garden- and park design, claimed that nature was an intrinsic component of her, which was why she often put landscape first in her works. The Flower Pavilion melts into the landscape with a sensitivity characteristic of the architect’s signature. In addition to organic architecture, the building, which step-by-step ascends a hillside, also represents Finnish-influenced cornice architecture. This approach was rare and reviving (i.e. Nordic) in Soviet Estonian society at the time, as the rigidity of the early 1950s still echoed. The detail-rich interior sketches demonstrate the architect’s great enthusiasm for designing flower exhibitions – an activity she also practiced afterward. Text: Sandra Mälk


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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


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Dr Spock’s residence

Tiit Kaljundi, architectural competition 1975, perspective drawing 1984, unrealised. MEA K-53

Tiit Kaljundi’s relationship with Soviet Estonia’s official architectural scene was conflicted, as one may have expected from an avant-garde artist. The ruling power saw monotonous mass apartment blocks as a simple opportunity to ease the deficit of dwelling-spaces. For Kaljundi, however, it was a situation that dampened creativity and encouraged a superficial attitude towards the residential environment, to which he responded with a starkly opposite project – the post-modernist villa. The design, which was originally entered in the magazine Japan Architect’s “House for a Superstar” competition in 1975, was dedicated to famous American doctor Benjamin Spock, whose childrearing book was widely read in Estonia at the time. This version was drafted for an exhibition highlighting the “Tallinn School” of architects, which was held in Finland in 1984. Kaljundi’s protest against the Soviet Union’s rigid, anonymous building culture is obvious. By creating an analogy between construction-stages and life-stages, he clearly expresses the opinion that man and architecture are not separable. The house and the concrete-sidewalked property around it symbolised the various stages of life. Kaljundi’s drawing presents the structure from an axonometric perspective, which enables its imagination in a three-dimensional scale on a two-dimensional surface. Text: Sandra Mälk


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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


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