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Participation of Estonia at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

Commissioner: Ülar Mark, Estonian Centre of Architecture
Curator: Karen Jagodin
Authors: Kalle Vellevoog, Tiiu Truus, Martin Pedanik, Karen Jagodin
Model at the exhibition: Mihkel Tüür, Ott Kadarik, Reedik Poopuu, Märten Tuuling, Aivar Hanniotti

In 2010, Estonia is participating at the Venice Biennale of Architecture - La Biennale di Venezia, with an exposition entitled 100 HOUSES, and has thereby set a clear goal for itself – to present local architectural practices to a wider audience and introduce Estonian architectural life through the narrow sphere of private residential architecture. Kazuyo Sejima, the general curator of the exhibition, has named the 2010 exhibition “People meet in architecture”.

Architecture is encountered by people throughout the built-up environment. The experience of architecture is part of everyday life, divided between many spheres and contrasts: public/private, physical/virtual and modern/classical. One of the initial stages in the experience of architecture is the life environment, which provides personal impulses that affect everyone. The private residence has always been a favorite topic for modern architecture, illustrating in its compactness and simultaneous complexity, people’s relationships with their environment and the way to shape it.

In local architectural literature, private residences have repeatedly been affectionately called “the quality mark of Estonian architecture”. Local building practices differ greatly from the rest of Europe in terms of the proportion of special commissions and standardized projects. While preparing the Estonian exposition, one of the objectives became to highlight the ratio between the number of “catalogue houses” and residences based on specially commissioned projects. The result in Estonia was a very small percentage of standardized projects. One can surmise that only about 10% of local private residences are “catalogue houses”. Of course, one cannot assume that the remaining 90% represent absolutely first-class residential architecture, but a considerable number of high-quality architecture still emerges from such a large number of projects.

There are many reasons why there are such a large number of specially commissioned residences in Estonia based on the population and construction activity. As a young society, there are many young architects working here, for whom it is simpler to enter the labor market than in the older European countries. At the same time, there are also many young clients who are ready to experiment, who are free of clichéd concepts and wishes. It is worth noting that of the hundred residences included in this exhibition, at least half were designed by architects who were under 40 at that time that the buildings were designed. Private commissions are also encouraged by the one-sided, young and still totally undeveloped standardized housing market.

In order to demonstrate the historical continuity and unique position of private residential architecture in the local architectural scene, the exhibition includes private residences with special iconic meaning from the period of the first Estonian Republic and the Soviet era. However, the main emphasis is placed on the 21st century, thereby creating such a voluminous overview of the best of Estonian residential architecture for the first time.

The Exhibition is accompanied by a 250-page catalogue, with rich illustrative material and articles, to expand the topic.

Participation of Estonia at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, is organised by the Estonian Centre of Architecture, co-organised by the Union of Estonian Architects and supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Estonia.

Karen Jagodin, curator

Pille Epner, project manager
Estonian Centre of Architecture


Saatelõik kultuursaates OP! / Cultural programm OP! in ETV

Intervjuu Kalle Vellevoogiga Sirbis / Interview with Kalle Vellevoog

Triin Ojari artikkel Sirbis / Article by Triin Ojari in Sirp

Biennaalimuljed Sirbis / Impressions from La Biennale in Sirp

Karen Jagodini artikkel Sirbis / Article by Karen Jagodin in Sirp

Lõik Aktuaalsest Kaamerast / Interview from TV-news

Artikkel Päevalehes / Article in Eesti Päevaleht

Tutvustus ArchDailys / Introduction in ArchDaily

Tutvustus Designboomis / Introduction in Designboom

Tutvustus Bustleris / Introduction in Bustler"