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The project “O”, authored by five people. All accompanying photos are from the LIFT 11 archives

“If It's Part Broke, Half Fix It”

The architect pair Siiri Vallner and Indrek Peil have cleverly, and with minimal financing, created a terrace that the city's inhabitants have already managed to fall in love with. It lies close to the harbor, by the “Cultural Kilometer” – a pedestrian street in the burgeoning cultural neighborhood where a railway line once used to run. It brings to mind the name of an exhibit at the CAC (Contemporary Art Center) in Vilnius - “If It's Part Broke, Half Fix It”.

Large slabs of broken concrete create a jagged shoreline at the former boat dock. Having assured themselves of the stability of the slabs, the architects have sheathed the concrete surfaces with wooden boards, creating an architecturally unusual terrace with the strange effect of looking as if it is broken. 

Its authors point out that it is characteristic of today's architecture to experiment with defects. Architects invest large amounts of money to realize such visually deformed, but structurally stable forms. For the two Tallinners, this was an opportunity upon which to practice their skills, but on an already existing site and with “free” material. By the end of May, the boards of the terrace have already managed to fade a bit, visually improving it and thereby integrating the terrace into its environs even more.

Interestingly enough, the most angled of the concrete slabs, which seems rather unusable as a terrace, is the most popular among vacationers. It's steepness allows one to lean back, as if in a bed with a raised back, and gaze at the horizon out into the sea. 

Temporary improvements have been implemented and are functioning, and the city hopes and promises to restore the yachting dock and to build cafes and additional terraces. While these ambitious plans are being bandied about, the locals already have a place to come together and enjoy the evening sun, courtesy of the Festival.  

A Minimum of Beach?

Similar to the above-mentioned terrace, the beach project also shows how little work is actually necessary to improve the urban environment and the happiness of its inhabitants. A bit beyond the terrace – between Liinahall and the now-defunct city jail – is the local beach, Kalarand (transl. Fisherman's Beach). It is not registered as a legal place for swimming, but city dwellers come here to swim anyway.

Two urban activists, Teele Pehk and Triin Talk, and the architect and urban designer Toomas Paaver, have erected a changing room on the beach; they also put down a bench and covered two existing concrete blocks with wooden boards, creating two more tables/benches. They have done just enough to make the locals happy and to even increase the number of visitors to the site. 

The goal of the project is not to encourage people to swim in an area off-limits to swimming, but to show that this zone is necessary for the city's shoreline. However, this doesn't fall in line with Tallinn's city planners' hopes of giving the beach over to the harbor for expansion, which would eliminate all possibilities (illegal or not) of cooling-off here in the summer.