Architecture

In recent years, architectural awareness in Estonian society has grown, and architecture is increasingly being included in public discussions. The approach to te field has expanded and this now generally includes sub-areas of the living environment, such as planning, interior, landscape and volumetric architecture, urban planning and art in the public space.

The spokespeople for the field of architecture are the professional associations headed by the Union of Estonian Architects and the development is led by the Estonian Centre for Architecture, which is the development centre of the sector.

2008 marked 90 years since professional architecture education was introduced in Estonia. To commemorate this event, 2008 was declared the Year of Architecture in Estonia.

Several agencies are responsible for Estonia’s spatial development and the planning of its living environment:

  • Spatial planning and decisions related to state property - Ministry of Finance;
  • (Natural) environment – Ministry of the Environment and the Environmental Board;
  • Construction activities – Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications;
  • Architecture and cultural heritage – Ministry of Culture and the National Heritage Board;
  • Planning of county development and spatial planning at the regional level – Ministry of Finance;
  • Planning of state-owned land – Estonian Land Board.

Various state and local government units, including the Road Administration and Riigi Kinnisvara AS, as the clients, are responsible for the design of buildings and structures. The range of government agencies and state-owned companies with sectoral activities impacting space is even wider. At the local level, local governments are responsible for the quality of the living environment.

In July 2017, the Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with the State Chancellery and relevant ministries and partner organizations, set up an expert group on spatial creation, k who submitted proposals to the Government of the Republic in February 2018 for the planning and implementation of better spatial decisions. The final report of the expert group is available here.

In 2019, the Ministry of Culture participated in the work of an interministerial working group for space creation, which discussed ways to improve the functioning of spatial creation processes. A proposal was made to create a joint agency that would combine the fields of land, regional and planning and to take into account the basic principles of quality space in the development of the built environment. An action plan was prepared with proposals for implementing the basic principles.

Statistics

  • There are about 500 companies operating in the architectural field in Estonia.
  • There are about 1,200 people employed in architectural design, spatial planning and landscape architecture companies.

Mapping and analysis of valuable 20th-century architecture

In 2008–2013, at the initiative of the Ministry of Culture, the National Heritage Board, the Estonian Academy of Arts and the Estonian Museum of Architecture, determined the best Estonian 20th-century architecture. A database was created, to help local governments and entrepreneurs prepare general and detailed plans, as well as prepare proposals for the registration of areas of environmental value. Architectural historians can make use of the database for research.

The database of 20th century architecture is available on the National Heritage Board website.

Education

A higher education in architecture can be acquired at:

  • Estonian Academy of Arts – architecture, urban planning and interior architecture;
  • Tallinn University of Technology – architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture;
  • Tallinn University of Applied Sciences – applied architecture;
  • Estonian University of Life Sciences – landscape architecture.

The School of Architecture is the only extracurricular school in Estonia dealing with spatial issues and one of the few such schools in Northern Europe and the Baltic countries. The classes at the School of Architecture are focused on the development of spatial thinking, i.e. a topic only briefly dealt with in the curricula of general education schools today. The workshops do not teach architecture, but rather focus on noticing, understanding, perceiving and creating space. The School of Architecture has been operating since 2011. The school is run by the non-profit Ruumiharidus.

From 2015 to 2016, an elective architecture course for students in upper secondary general education schools was compiled in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Research and the School of Architecture. In 2017, the course was launched as a pilot project in nine schools. Since September 2017, the working version of the elective course “Architecture as a Living Environment”, and the instruction materials prepared for its implementation for conducting the study process, have been published on the information portal of the state curriculum, and secondary schools can include it when designing their curriculum.

Important partners

Estonian Architecture Centre
The Architecture Centre is the Ministry of Culture’s main cooperation partner in regard to creative economy and export issues.

Estonian Museum of Architecture
The museum documents, preserves and introduces the history and development of Estonian architecture.

Estonian Qualifications Authority
A foundation that organises the development of professional standards and coordinates professional exams.

Riigi Kinnisvara AS
A state-owned real estate development and management company that advises the state on real estate issues.

Professional organisations

  •  Estonian Association of Architects
    A creative union uniting architects. The Association of Architects organises architectural events and competitions and issues professional qualification certificates. The EAA represents Estonian architects in the following international organisations: ACE –Architects' Council of Europe, BAUA – Baltic Architects Unions Association, UIA – International Union of Architects.
  • Estonian Association of Interior Architects
    Creative union uniting interior architects. The Association of Interior Architects issues professional qualification certificates for interior architects.
  • Estonian Union of Landscape Architects
    Professional association of landscape architects and landscape architecture scientists. The EMAL issues certificates of professional qualification for landscape architects.
  • Estonian Union of Design Offices
    Association of companies providing construction consultancy services.
  • Estonian Association of Planners
    Association of spatial planners.

Community organisations

Uus Maailm’s SocietyTelliskivi SocietyKadriorg SocietyCity Lab, School of Architecture.

Contact

Veronika Valk-Siska

Adviser (Architecture and Design)

Last updated: 10.01.2021