A reply to A SMOOTHLY ORGANISED DISAPPOINTMENT - "RECYCLING SOCIALISM" IN TALLINN
Having visited the Tallinn Architecture Biennale as well, I confess I’m astonished by the article of Tarja Nurmi and her smashing judgment.
Calling the six lectures “theoretical or shallow” in the same sentence is absurd. Mrs. Nurmi apparently did not understand the obvious effort of the curator team, to not principally copy and paste the numbers game of so-called “excellent built examples”, but to give a chance to fundamentally rethink our approach to ideologically biased space production. Furthermore, I have rarely been at a symposium where invariably every speaker was thoroughly prepared, interacted with the other presenters so constructively, and had a more passionated and profound opinion on the event’s topic. To call this Stringent Intensiveness shallow is beyond believe.
Considering your cry for “real specialist”, I’d love to hear more about who that would be. Is it the city architect of a post-socialist metropole? The engineer that calculates a glass and steel facade for a concrete slab public building? The investor that finally brings the millions to commoditize the fouling heritage?
I’m not sure how Mrs. Nurmi could have missed the implications all of the presentations had in their pursue of social and cultural effects and implications of architecture and their interpretations: Huber’s multimedia hybrid and “passive house” museum/public space, Aureli’s consequences of modern space for the precarious creative workers, Hungar’s spatial interpretations of social relationships, Wojciechowski’s resistance to pure market logic and patronizing rule sets of competitions and Čeferin’s jolting plea for a critical architecture revised. For me as an urbanist it is beautiful to see how diverse architects can look at space. Mrs. Nurmi, not reflecting in your blog entry upon the implications of those lines of thought on those grounds, in particular here in the Baltics and in Tallinn - this is the actual shallowness towards your interested readers.
There is a lot to learn about how to functionally reuse socialist architecture, but for this I can as well review the efforts made by various projects installed through the last two decades throughout Europe. Speaking of which, the renovation and reuse of the TV tower in Berlin, and correspondingly in Tallinn. Really? Those projects are done and over with, there’s nothing groundbreaking to see here. I strongly believe that we don’t have trouble finding creative architectural methods and ways of reusing and remaking objects produced in the last 70 years. We need to layout the groundwork to discuss how we approach them ideologically. And for this process the symposium provided enough food for thought to leave to the audience.
As of the rest of your review, your reflection on the curator’s exhibition, and the exhibition space in Linnahall, and the temporary club/café/bookshop leaves me thoroughly unsatisfied. In the only critique towards the curator’s exhibition models you missed the blatantly obvious recursive thought of the Swiss team about ideology, time and object: the most famous conclusion of modernism, modified - “All that is solid melts into air” - and so does the architecture. How can you not see the inversion of all that has been taking for granted, manifested in Frolov’s/Levtchuk’s hovering monolith - the reversed ground. No word of the presentations and dialogues fueled by architects from all over Europe - the vast network which the “young curators” as you call them have been able to weave in years of effort; no word about the contributions of the school’s exhibition in Linnahall - didn’t you long for practical examples?
All in all, a disappointing review, obviously biased with name dropping by the author. I for my part can only hope that the next Tallinn Architecture Biennale will pick up on where the b210 team have left us here in Tallinn, showing how it certainly is possible to put Tallinn on the map outside of the rails of the boring IT hype.