An exhibition on the problems of urban planning in Tallinn opens at the Museum of Architecture


At the Estonian Museum of Architecture, a new exhibition titled ‘City Unfinished. Urban Visions of Tallinn’ invites the audience to explore Estonia’s capital from the urban planning point of view. Visitors to the exhibition will get an overview of Tallinn’s urban planning challenges and problems, and hopefully also an answer to the question of how easy or difficult it might be to transform Tallinn into a more sustainable and competitive city, a great place to live today as well as in the future. The research was completed thanks to the support of the real estate company Kapitel, which contributed a total of nearly half a million euros to the project over three years.

The exhibition is based on the research project Unfinished City of the Estonian Academy of Arts, which dealt with urban planning visions and spatial scenarios of Tallinn. According to the curator of the exhibition, PhD student of the Faculty of Architecture and architect Johan Tali, we all use the city as residents, and thus should pay attention to, and care about how and in which direction the city develops. “Since the exhibition gives a big picture of Tallinn as the capital of Estonia, the sincere hope of the creators of the exhibition is that it inspires the visitor to understand what is happening in Tallinn, because any city planning decisions and steps should be made for the benefit of the city residents,” explained Tali.

The exhibition shows what can be ‘planned’ in today’s city, i.e. which opportunities do Tallinn’s green areas offer for shaping tomorrow’s city; the locations of Tallinn’s current and potential future centres. The exhibition also proposes changes to the centre of Tallinn in order to create more tightly woven, walkable urban space. Lasnamäe is put under a special microscope: more than half of Tallinn’s homes are located in prefabricated housing estates similar to Lasnamäe but what kind of development do these areas need to make them competitive in the future? ‘City Unfinished’ concludes with the proposal of a number of urban development and planning ideas for Tallinn 2050 – a vision for the next 30 years.

The exhibition includes works completed as part of the three-year research project, as well as independent and earlier urban planning ideas that have been reframed. At the exhibition, the projects of the students of the Faculty of Architecture of the Estonian Academy of Arts engage the works of their supervisors in a dialogue, and initiate and enrich discussions about specific sites and topics in the Tallinn of the future.

According to Mart Kalm, the Rector of the Academy of Arts, universities would still need to come up with bolder ideas even if urban planning in Tallinn were to become set on more solid foundations. “The analyses and visions of future Tallinn, prepared in cooperation between the lecturers, researchers and students of the Academy of Arts, are an excellent example of knowledge transfer, the benefit of universities, much needed by the entire Estonian society and economy,” said Kalm.

At the heart of both the exhibition and the research project is the common goal of seeing Tallinn as a sustainable, competitive city, where future generations would want to live. If we want to agree on further ambitions and developments on as wide a scale as possible, we need to involve knowledge from various parties shaping the city, look to the future, get a sense of the problem areas and see the potential for making the city a better place.

‘Unfinished City’ is a broad-based research project carried out in cooperation with the Faculty of Architecture of the Academy of Arts and the City of Tallinn, which, over a period of three years, focused on Tallinn’s urban vision and spatial future scenarios. The research was completed thanks to the support of the real estate company Kapitel, which contributed a total of nearly half a million euros to the project over three years.