The Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB) is an international architecture and urban-planning forum that encourages synergy between Estonian and foreign architects as well as between architects and the general public by way of creating contacts and exchanging ideas. The core events of the Biennale – the Symposium, the Curators Exhibition, the Architecture Schools Exhibition and the Vision Competition were location specific and took place in outstanding buildings of the era: cinema Kosmos, the Sprat Tin Hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Linnahall and an empty standard school building in Väike-Õismäe.
In the Biennale’s framework – Recycling Socialism – the given era is limited from the 1960’s through the 1980’s, when unprecedented forms and urban dimensions appeared in the cityscape. In the course of a massive production of space, glorious ideologies were poured into concrete moulds for a society that never came to be. Contemporary society lives in a world of individuality and customisability, but the awkward moulds are still here – in Tallinn, in Estonia, in Eastern and Central Europe, in Europe at large and all over the world. We have reached a turning point, in which an ever-growing proportion of European architects consider this as historical architecture, from an era preceding their own personal experience, to be uncovered and explored. These spaces constitute an abundant collection from which to rediscover projects, materials, ideas and stories. Which are the most valuable finds and what is there to recycle for the future?
The Curators’ Exhibition took place in the Sprat Tin Hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The architects and their teams invited to participate in the Curators’ Exhibition will each offer a new interpretation for a Soviet-era building in Tallinn. A progressive dialogue between modernist ideas and the contemporary urban space will arise through appreciation and remixing. Tallinn will be treated as one example, but the greater and lesser problems are universal. The Curators’ Exhibition focuses on the following questions: What is there to appreciate in Tallinn’s Soviet-era architecture? How to recycle the street space, structures, projects, ideas, conceptions, and materials? What do former future-utopias teach us?
The Vision Competition Exhibition in an empty standard school building in Väike-Õismäe was exhibiting architect’s answers to questions: What to do with an ideal idea? Should totality be attacked with totality? Can geometric order be enjoyable to live in? What is there to recycle for today’s life and new utopias of the future? Väike-Õismäe Vision Competition recieved 86 entries from all over the world. They were exhibited in the heart of the iconic panel housing district – Väike-Õismäe, where a dormant school came back to life for one day and opened its doors for the visitors. There were full day of events – the exhibition, guided tours, award ceremony, flash lectures and everybody could participate in conversations about Väike-Õismäe´s future visions.
The International Architecture Schools’ Exhibition n+1 Ideas in Linnahall invited students and professors from several renowned Architecture Schools from all over the globe to biennale’s discussion. The traditional result of architects’ work is designed space, a material result born in a complicated process of quest. How much is architecture (in the meaning of designed space) influenced by the approaches chosen for creating it? The International Architecture School Exhibition proposes and introduces different methods of studying, defining and questioning space from the most pragmatic and practical to philosophical and contemplative. Attention is shifted from architecture as a matter of fact to architecture as a process of critical thinking. Can unexpected methods of creating space result in unpredictable types of space?
By concentrating and introducing different critical ideas, starting-points, and perspectives, the schools’ exhibition raises the question: how might different methods of approach function in the context of recycling the historical Soviet-era space?
Curators b210: Aet Ader, Mari Hunt, Kadri Klementi, Karin Tõugu, Kaidi Õis
Main organiser: The Estonian Centre of Architecture
Graphic design: AKU