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Interesting modern architecture in Tallinn

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By Noora Karppi  •  09.04.2018

The construction of Tallinn will never end. New buildings rise here every year, changing the city an making it an interesting place to visit or live in.

We asked the Museum of Estonian Architecture what are the most interesting new-builds in Tallinn. Here’s what they recommend.

Rotermann Quarter

Completed: 2006 -
Address: Rotermanni 8

Rotermann quarter is located in the city centre between the Old Town and the Passenger Port. The industrial district of Rotermann quarter has an interesting history going all the way back to 1829.

Several factories and mills operated here in the 19th and first half of 20th century, but the area and its businesses suffered greatly in World War II. Many of the buildings were damaged, and the private companies nationalized.

In 2001, The National Heritage Board found that Rotermann quareter has cultural value and it should be renovated. The first part of the renovations and new constructions finished in 2006. The development of Rotermann quarter continues today. New buildings are added and the old ones rebuilt in harmony. Today Rotermann quarter is home to many shops, restaurants, offices and flats. The whole area balances Tallinn Old Town's medeival charm with modern edge.

The development of Rotermann quarter has been led by Rotermann City OÜ in cooperation with Estonian architecture companies Kosmos (Mihkel Tüür, Villem Tomiste, Ott Kadarik), KOKO Arhitektid (Andrus Kõresaar, Raivo Kotov), Alver Arhitektid (Andres Alver, Indrek Rünkla), Teigar Sova Arhitektid (Vahur Sova), HG Arhitektuur (Hanno Grossschmidt, Tomomi Hayashi) and Emil Urbeli Arhitektuuribüroo.

Tondiraba Ice Hall

Completed: 2014
Address: Varraku 14

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Tondiraba is the newest ice hall in Tallinn. It opened in August 2014, after 14 months of construction. The three-storey multi-functional sports complex, comprised of the main arena and three practice halls, is a building with very exciting architecture.

Tondiraba ice hall is an unusual mix of wood and concrete. It has concrete patterned columns and walls with many windows and patterned window frames. The 61-metre span wooden girders make it even more detailed and unique. The wooden girders, that are usually larger iron or steel structures, are a masterpiece of Estonian engineering. The architecture of Tondiraba looks simple and pretty, but it was a challenge to the builders.

The Concrete Association of Estonia and Association of Construction Material Producers of Estonia chose Tondiraba as the "Best Estonian Concrete Building of the Year 2014".

The architects are Ott Kadarik and Mihkel Tüür from Kadarik Tüür Arhitektid company.

A time-lapse video of Tondiraba construction works

Baltic Film and Media School

Completed: 2012
Address: Narva mnt 27

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Baltic Film and Media School (BFM) was created in 2005 as a part of the University of Tallinn. BFM is one of the most modern film schools in Europe and the only English-language film and media school in the Northern-Europe. 

The building where BFM operates is called NOVA. It is the latest addition to the campus of Tallinn University in central city.

The first thing you'll notice is the large open main façade. The façade creates a stage-like open space, where concerts and film screenings take place regularly. Behind the "stage" is the backstage, the school building. Inside the NOVA building are studios, shooting pavilions, editing rooms, cinema auditorium, office space, and open rooms for gathering and brainstorming.

The architects of NOVA are Karli Luik, Maarja Kask and Ralf Lõoke from Salto arhitektuuribüroo OÜ. Salto won the annual prize for "Architecture of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia" in 2012 with NOVA.

Tallinn Synagogue

Completed: 2007
Address: Karu 16

The Tallinn Synagogue is by far the most modern house of worship in the city. Completed in 2007, the new synagogue ended a long period of waiting for the local Jewish community, as the old synagogue in Tallinn (built in 1885) was destroyed in World War II.

The Tallinn Synagogue is designed by KOKO architects. With this project they won the annual prize for "Architecture of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia" in 2007.

When designing a house of worship, there are quite a few things that the architects have to take into consideration; the traditions of the religion and the community. While working on this project the architects worked in close collaboration with the local Jewish community and visited Israel, to learn more about the Jewish traditions and history.

The contemporary synagogue is designed around people and each room is connected naturally with the next one. The form of the synagogue (barrel vault) and columns on three indicate that the building as a house of worship. As according to Jewish traditions, the main sanctuary is facing Jerusalem, Aron Kodesh is placed on the south wall (made of glass) and the synagogue has separate rooms for men and women.

Estonian Film Museum

Completed: 2017
Address: Pirita tee 56

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Estonian Film Museum was completed and opened in 2017. It's located in Maarjamäe History Centre as a part of the Estonian History Museums. 

Right next to the new museum is the historical Maarjamäe Palace home to Estonian History Museum that has recently undergone a complete renovation. On the other side you'll find the Maarjamäe Stables exhibition hall. The architects goal here was that the new museum building wouldn't outshine the other buildings around it but compliment them instead.

The building of Estonian Film Museum is minimalistic with a façade of stained steel. Visitors are directed to the Film Museum via a pathway that resembles the red carpet. The entrance to the museum is below ground floor. From outside it looks like the building doesn’t have any windows, but the indoors is filled with natural light and clever architectural solutions.

Estonian Film Museum houses an exhibition dedicated to the history of cinema in Estonia. It explains what happens behind the scenes in the global film industry. One highlight of the museum is its 210-seat cinema and conference hall, where anyone can host screenings and all sorts of other high-quality events.

The film museum is designed by BOA OÜ, architects Anto Savi, Margus Soonets and Jürgen Lepper.

Viimsi secondary school

Completed: 2006
Address: Randvere tee 8

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The secondary school in Viimsi is the largest school in Estonia with over 1300 pupils.

The ground floor plan of the school is in the shape of a sun wheel. Different wings of the building meet in the middle and form an atrium with a glass roof and a water wall. Inside are also a swimming pool and a sports hall.

The external façade is made of iron-treated concrete walls, imitating timber, and large windows. The several elements and walls that twist and turn in different directions make the façade even more interesting and original.

The school in Viimsi was designed by architects Illimar Truverk, Eero Endjärv, Priit Pent and Raul Järgi, from a company Agabus, Endjärv & Truverk Arhitektid.

NOA restaurant

Completed: 2014
Address: Ranna tee 3

NOA restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Estonia by White Guide Nordic. It impresses visitors not only with its gourmet dishes and amazing views over the Tallinn bay but also with its smooth and contemporary architecture.

The building has been specially built for the restaurant. The interior is simple and full of light and all tables have a view to the sea.

Located between the sea and two roads, NOA has been shaped like the letter U. The shape creates a quiet yard and a terrace facing the sea. On this side, NOA has large windows offering magnificent views of the silhouette of Tallinn. The other three sides of the building, facing the roads, are mostly covered with thermos-treated ash boards.

Architects Peeter Loo, Jan Skolimowski and Kaspar Kruuse from Kamp Arhitektid designed the building for NOA.