Today, I had an exclusive chance to talk to Herkko Labi, urban activist and organizer of projects like Telliskivi in Tallinn. At the moment he is employed by the Kultuuri Katel to oversee the conceptual and physical changes planned for the building site, a derelict power plant close to the sea side of Tallinn. This building stands for the flair that the whole area creates in my mind – a place of transition.
The coastal side of Tallinn has a highly ambigous history and role. During the Soviet times, the landscape was marked by military structures, demarkating the coastal border of Estonia. Heavily fortified, it steadily erased the image of an accessible beach and port for the people, cynically turning the metaphor of the sea as wide open space and a location of adventures and new possibilites into an imaginery of death and decay, of a wall you would run into if you would just try to go further than allowed to you by authorities.
Since then the area underwent a complete turnaround, though in different directions. The militaristic buildings are gone, and to the East the renovated port area with its endless concret parking spaces and chances to get overprized alcohol and souvenirs are calling for easy commerce. Not so the Western part, close to the historical port and cut off by the Linnahall plot. Here, where the “cultural kilometer” connects random and dispersed, yet to be discovered spots of interest – cultural, natural and economical spaces of chance – the Kulturi Katel seems to be a massive dominator at first glance, not unlikely comparable to the brutalist Linnahall and the cheap modern shopping centers and ferry terminals.
Yet, it is the concept that will shape this place into something different, hopefully in the near future. It used to be the flagship development, representing the ‘becoming of space’ of the 2011 Cultural Capital agenda. Unfortunately, it has not been finished by now and the events happening there seem to be a bit out of place at a sight lacking a coherent image as of now. However, the precarious situation of the building give way to trivial visions like mine. Could it be possible to enter and shape part of that dramatic space? It cannot be handled monolythically, so let’s see if the cracks in the monster are big enough…