Estonian society has become more architecture-conscious in recent years and architecture is discussed increasingly in public.

The field of architecture has expanded and now encompasses all general aspects of the living environment, such as planning, interior and landscape architecture, structural engineering, urban planning and art in public spaces.

The rise of architecture has largely been due to the Union of Estonian Architects and Estonian Centre of Architecture, as well as the Council of Architecture, which was founded on the initiative of the actors in the architectural field.

Planning of the built environment is regulated by five ministries:

  • Ministry of Culture – protection of architectural heritage, architecture as a field of art, supervision of the implementation of architectural policies;
  • Ministry of the Environment – environmental protection, landscape protection; 
  • Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications – construction and housing;
  • Ministry of Finance – spatial planning, regional development and local government matters, management of the state real estate, public procurements. 

Eesti virtuaalpaviljon Veneetsia biennaalil 2014 (illustratsioon: Johanna Jõekalda, Johan Tali, Siim Tuksam)

Higher education in architecture can be acquired at:
  • Estonian Academy of Arts – architecture and interior architecture;
  • Tallinn University of Technology – architecture; Landscape Architecture
  • Tallinn University of Applied Sciences – applied architecture.
  • Estonian University of Life Siences - Landscape Architecture



  • About 500 companies operate in the field of architecture in Estonia.

  • Nearly 1,200 people are employed in architectural planning, spatial planning and landscaping businesses.

  • The main foreign markets are Finland, Ukraine and Belarus.


Architectural policy

Estonian architectural policy is based on the document of that very name – “Estonian Architectural Policy” – which was approved by the Government of the Republic on 22 October 2002. The goal of architectural policy is to treat the built environment as a component of our national heritage, and to preserve and increase its value. 

What does this document govern?

The document highlights the obligations and responsibilities of the concerned parties.

The state is responsible for the living environment. Safety, good structure and high construction quality in an environment is a basic right, which the state has to ensure with legislation and procedures.
Planning and administration of construction is an area of responsibility for local government. A local government can lay down and apply local rules (e.g., building regulations), long-term programmes and strategies on architectural planning; it coordinates planning by buying respective services or compiling plans itself. 
A customer has the right to commission whatever he wants as long as it does not endanger other people’s lives or violate anyone’s rights. For this, one must follow construction standards and seek approvals for one’s activities. The private sector and NGOs are partners to the public sector in creating an aesthetic living environment. 

What are an architect’s obligations?

The document covers the obligations and responsibilities of an architect’s profession.

Professional Estonian architects are united into a Union of Estonian Architects, which was established in 1922.
An architect is a specialist, whose professional competence is determined by the level of his education. Architectural policy has to be supported by educational policy.
An architect’s relationship with society is not only centred around aesthetics, but also has a social dimension. The latter is based on the state’s trust and the society’s recognition of an architect as a designer of the living environment. 
The quality of the living environment depends on the competence and professional ethics of an architect as the designer of this environment.

What is the objective of architectural policy?  

The document lists six major goals of Estonian architectural policy:

  • to treat the built environment as a component of our national heritage, and to preserve and increase its value;
  • to create possibilities for the development of a living environment that satisfies the inhabitants’ social needs, and is at the same time safe and harmonious;
  • to foster the society’s sense of responsibility for the living environment by promoting architectural education and architecture as a discipline;
  • to support spatial planning, creation of high-class architecture and high-quality construction;
  • to support the development of architectural education, planning, urban construction, construction engineering, and study of construction materials;
  • to take measures in order to preserve architectural heritage as one of the pillars of national cultural history.


Mapping and analysing worthwhile architecture of the 20th century


During 2008-2013, on the initiative of the Ministry of Culture, the National Heritage Board, the Estonian Academy of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Estonian Architecture, the best of 20th-century architecture was selected. A database was compiled with helpful material for local governments and entrepreneurs to draft comprehensive and detailed plans and make suggestions for registering areas of cultural and environmental value. Historians who study architecture can use the database for research. 

Main partners


A development centre in the field of architecture, the main activities of which are to promote architecture, introduce Estonian architecture abroad, export architecture, and initiate courses and supplemental training in architecture. The architecture centre is the main cooperation partner to the Ministry of Culture in the matters of creative industry and export.
Museum of Estonian Architecture
The museum records, preserves and introduces the history and development of Estonian architecture.
Council of Architecture
A society that unites umbrella organisations and professional unions; created to enhance the field through regular communication.
European Forum for Architectural Policies
An organisation that forms architectural policies in Europe; the Ministry of Culture has been a member since 2007.
Estonian Qualifications Authority Kutsekoda  Organises the development of professional standards and coordinates qualification exams.
Riigi Kinnisvara AS
A state-owned real estate development and management company, which advises the state on real estate matters.

Professional organisations

  • Union of Estonian Architects (EAL)
    A creative union for architects; organises architectural events and competitions, issues professional qualification certificates. EAL represents Estonian architects in international organisations, such as ACE (Architects' Council of Europe), BAUA (Baltic Architects Unions Association) and UIA (International Union of Architects).
  • Union of Estonian Interior Architects
    A creative union for interior architects, which issues professional qualification certificates to interior architects.
  • Estonian Landscape Architects’ Union
    Professional creative association for landscape architects and landscaping scholars, which issues professional qualification certificates to landscape architects.
  • Estonian Association of Architectural and Consulting Engineering Companies
    An association of companies that offer construction consultation services.
  • Estonian Association of Spatial Planners
    An association of people that deal with spatial planning.

Community organisations (societies)

Uue Maailma Selts, Telliskivi Selts, Kadrioru Selts, b210, Linnalabor

Veronika Valk-Siska
Adviser (Architecture and design)

Phone +372 682 8207


Last updated: 10 January 2019