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

A Japanese Architect and the Aura of a Soviet Building

Tomomi Hayashi is a Japanese architect who has lived and worked in Tallinn since 2001. He has brought several projects to fruition in the capital of Estonia; for instance, working along with several Estonian architects, he engineered the building that houses the Museum of Occupation. For the Festival, he is building a viewing terrace titled “To the Sea” –  also alongside the harbor.

The wooden terrace will be an artificially made addition to the already existing soviet-era construction –  Linnahall, which was built in the 1980's as the only spot where city dwellers could gain access to the sea. The high, concrete stairway ending with a wide platform at its top is still an impressive public building, and is a favorite meeting place for the city's inhabitants, especially the younger generation, and especially in summer. (The older generation tends to wrinkle their noses at it, saying it is a reminder of the now-gone regime). 

Tomomi Hayashi admits that Linnahall's aura, with its beautiful view and sea breezes, speaks to him, and that is why he chose exactly this spot to create his urban installation. 

The terrace, “To the Sea”, is finished and open from July 15. 

Why not 12?

There are also installations that withstood the competition but were later vetoed by City Hall. One of the most hurtful bans, to both the curators and the artists, was announced just recently, when the installation was almost finished. The designer and installation artist Margus Tamm and the artist and product and interior designer Argo Peever had planned to improve upon the tzarist-Russian-built statue “Russalka” (transl. “Little Mermaid”), which lies close to Kadriorg Park, by adding a claustrophobic tunnel of steps that leads right up to the “Little Mermaid” and allows one to look into her eyes.

The approved projects' road to acceptance was also long, largely due to bureaucracy. This leads to the question – how open is the city to not only artistic events being held in the city's environment, but also to the active development of the urban landscape as such? Because the fact is that the number of people who have something to offer Tallinn is growing faster than the number of people from whom approval must be garnered. It is not for nothing that in several projects the word “illegal” has appeared; it makes one think about the dichotomy between the city's development, as guided by the city planners, and the way in which the city's inhabitants carry on their daily lives and rituals.

Photos: LIFT11